Monday Nov. 15:
Wake up at 6am, exhausted but I need to finish last minute packing for our two-day trip to see WHO and MSF in Geneva, Switzerland. By 9, I deliriously make it to my assigned train seat and see it transform in my mind to a Serta mattress. Realize the alphabetical listing has me facing Bruno, my 40-something, very French, program director. Awkwarddd. I knocked out anyway.
Three and a half hours later we drop our bags off at our surprisingly nice hotel and head off to MSF (or Doctors without Borders). After two presentations from various members, I find myself with mixed feelings on the organization. To put it simply, they do the dirty work many others are afraid to do. They send doctors to places others fear to tread. They remain neutral and impartial, helping anyone on any side of the conflict. I admire them for that.
But my only issue is sustainability, or rather the lack thereof. MSF has been tackling the effects of malnutrition in Africa for a while now. We discussed the power of "Plumpinuts," a peanut-butter-essential-nutrient-concoction that takes a weak, malnourished child to happy and healthy in two weeks time. They find the mother, give her a box of the peanut-paste, and check back in two weeks.
But then what? Just sending the kid back to the same situation? He'll be back to being malnourished in a few months! Long-term vs short-term solutions, ladies. When I asked about this, the presenter started to get real and talked about the internal debates MSF was having about taking a more developmental approach. But they are doctors, essentially. You go to the doctor and he will put a band-aid on your boo-boo and nothing else. At the end of the day, their presence in the world is ubiquitous and imperative and I was happy to buy an "I Have MSF: L'engagement C'est Contagieux" free-trade t-shirt.
Oh yeah, and it was also my 21st birthday, along with my friend Amanda (yeah Scorpios!). The whole group went for dinner at "Restaurant Edelweiss" for traditional Swiss fondue. Though I can't say I liked the cheese, I inhaled the chocolate. If you can't tell by now, it runs through my veins. Of course, someone tipped off the two yodeling musicians playing behind us that it was our birthdays. They hilariously played for us on the bells, the saw, the spoons and some ten-foot long traditional horn, which they insisted the birthday girls had to play as well. Fun times in Edelweiss!