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July 13, 2005

Live 8 B Gone

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usOne of my best friends knows very well that there is much more to African aid than aging smug pop stars (can I please slap Geldof and Bono now?), wearing pieces of white rubber on one's wrist, and tsk-tsking over the state of the world. He has just returned from six months in Chad with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans frontières, or MSF) where he was in charge of the medical services for two camps of Sudanese refugees escaping civil war and genocide.

My friend was the sole doctor for 40 000 traumatised, malnourished people with very little food, who had to endure several epidemics of tuberculosis and meningitis, and who had not much to do but sit and remember. There are some of the pictures he took. The people in these pictures gave their permission to have their photos taken and are aware that the photos will be distributed in one form or another. I have left out the photos that may disturb the weak of stomach. The weak of heart may find some if these disturbing. I hope you are one of the latter.

Please click on a thumbnail for the full view:

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The entrance to the walled compound with armed guards where MSF staff are housed. No machine guns allowed.

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The ambulance

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This is typical of the drawings the children in the camps draw. Note the bright colours, despite the violent subject matter. Note also the detail on the machine guns; they are instantly recognizable so these children must therefore have seen many in their short lives.

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Mother and daughter during a tuberculosis epidemic. The mother survived the TB. Her daughter passed away two days after this photo was taken.

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A six-year-old girl and her brother. Their father had killed by rebels about a year ago and their mother died of TB two weeks previously while they were making their way from Sudan to the camps in Chad. The two arrived at the camp alone. Note the little boy's hair loss and his over-round cheeks. This demonstrates severe malnutrition.

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Two much happier pictures of mothers and children. All residents of the camps were asked to go to the medical centre for a round of inoculations to preëmpt an outbreak of meningitis.

My friend wants to leave with MSF again.