by Jyotsna Venkatesh
Last night, our Soirée committee graciously arranged for us to learn more about our keynote speaker this year, Dr. James Orbinski by screening the documentary featuring him titled Triage. Dr. Orbinski was the president of the International Council of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) from 1998-2001 and is the co-founder and Chair of the Board of Directors for Dignitas International.
The documentary Triage follows Dr. Orbinski as he returns to Somalia and Rwanda, recounting his experiences with MSF during the 1992 Somali famine and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The unimaginable circumstances that he witnessed during that time in both countries was both terrifying and inspiring at the same time. Terrifying because it’s possible for events like this to happen in the complete absence of international support, showing what failures in international action can lead to. And inspiring because Dr. Orbinski explains very beautifully that to be a humanitarian is simply to connect with another human being through their suffering, free from politics, rhetoric or any agendas.
It was difficult to comprehend some of the scenes that he explains as he walks through the streets of Baidoa and Kigali, but it is important for us to understand such events and make sense of them. It was a sombre reminder of the consequences of international decisions or simply reminding ourselves that behind every policy intervention, there are human lives that live through the results of it (or lack thereof).If you missed the screening of Triage, I highly recommend watching it if you have the chance or picking up his book “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century” before this year’s Soiree.
If you’re interested in helping the committee raise some more funds for the Soirée, come out and have a drink this Friday, January 23rd at the Lieutenant’s Pump to support the cause and relieve some stress with your fellow NPSIAns! More details here.