VOICES FROM THE FIELD: Sarah Dina, MSF mental health officer in Pakistan
“For many people, telling the story is half the healing. We can’t take the pain away completely. But we can be there for people. Be there in their sadness, their guilt and their fear.
Imagine making the decision to leave your home country, the place of your birth, your childhood, your people, your land... Imagine leaving your home locked but fully furnished, with boxes and suitcases of your things that you can’t carry with you. You can’t carry them with you because you are leaving on foot. You can’t travel across the mountains by car. The roads aren’t good, and even if they were, you might get stopped. Imagine that you are leaving because you are scared. Scared you will be killed. Scared your sister will be raped. Scared your brother will be shot.
Imagine that before you left, you saw the dead bodies of multiple family members. Imagine these bodies weren’t intact. They were in pieces. A leg, metres away from the body it belongs to; an arm in the other direction. Imagine the fear you would have if you were to stay behind. Imagine the guilt you feel about leaving. Imagine that on your month-long trek across the mountain to safety, you have little food and water. You have blisters on your feet from your shoes at the start; you have cuts on your feet from walking barefoot at the end. Imagine walking through the snow, up a steep incline, hiding in the shrubbery when you hear a blast. Just imagine that as you walk, you see small children along the way who have been abandoned by their parents because it was impossible to carry them any longer through such rough terrain and in such harsh conditions. I tried to imagine how these parents felt. But I stopped myself. It’s too painful to think about their pain.”
MSF has been present in Pakistan since the early 1980s and today still provides emergency medical care to vulnerable populations, including Afghan refugees and displaced persons.