James Orbinski on his Time with Doctors Without Borders

January 19, 2012

If you’re looking for the model of a compassionate doctor, you could start with James Orbinski.  As a former member – and president – of Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, he’s served in some of the world’s most chaotic places, like Somalia, the refugee camps of Afghanistan and Rwanda, both before and during the genocide.  He writes about his experiences in the book “An Imperfect Offering.” He told Steve Paulson about the moment he realized what he was capable of contributing, as a doctor.

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Thank you so much for this wonderful interview. I cried through a good portion of it. I am a volunteer in a hospital ER waiting room, and Orbinski gives me words and awareness I was lacking. I see that I am at the ER to witness human courage and beauty, and to provide small comforts to those who allow me access to their bravery, pain, fear, and loss. I look very much forward to reading the book, a gift to us all.

For your courage and for your commentary about your experience. Unbelievable...

I cringed and covered my ears as I listened to the details of the horrific suffering that human beings cause and yet was struck silent by the tender compassion of the critically wounded patient for the doctor. Haunting details that remind me of the courage that both doctor and patients possess in the midst of unspeakable pain and suffering.

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