For my non-profit organization, I chose to visit Medicos Sin Fronteras. Most people in the United States know this organization as Doctors Without Borders. Choosing Medicos Sin Fronteras was an easy choice for me for multiple reasons. I had always admired their work, courage, and ideals. Also, this seemed like a perfect choice after reading Half the Sky. While I could only interview an employee at their office in Barcelona, it was a great way to witness how people get involved in the way the authors of Half the Sky encourage. Medicos Sin Fronteras may not be working solely for females in need, but such females are included amongst the victims that the organization helps.
Medicos Sin Fronteras is a humanitarian organization that strives to aid people in need, typically through medical solutions. They look to help people that are victims or in danger of violence, wars, natural disasters, and disease breakouts. They also help people who don’t have access to medical care or have been neglected. There are so many people that could use their help, but as all organizations are limited to some degree, Medicos Sin Fronteras focuses on populations that they deem to be in the direst need. The policy that all Medicos Sin Fronteras workers must follow states that they must always act with “neutrality, impartiality, non-discrimination, personal commitment and medical ethics”. They say that these ideals as well as their funding allows them to go anywhere in the world where help is needed. Not only do they aid people physically, but also part of their mission is to speak up about the tragedies and issues that they witness while on the job. The organization was actually founded in the 1970s based on this idea. Some doctors working with the Red Cross were displeased with the fact that they could not publically report the conflict they were witnessing in Biafra during the late 19060s.
How does Medicos Sin Fronteras help the community? Although this organization does not send its doctors out into the streets of Barcelona to do the work of the organization, the headquarters in Barcelona indirectly help the community. It gives citizens in the community the opportunity to join their cause. The headquarters and other offices like it are essential to the operations of Medicos Sin Fronteras. They coordinate, plan, support, and supervise the projects that are taking place. This gives people in the community the opportunity to get involved.
Volunteering can be very beneficial while living in another country. Even though I wasn’t able to volunteer in the headquarters myself, it was a learning experience just to observe the environment. Regardless of the type of organization, volunteering can help anyone immerse himself or herself in the culture. By getting involved, one can see how the working citizens of the community conduct themselves, outside of tourist areas.
This experience changed how I view my time studying abroad. I’ll admit that I came here with the goal of traveling as much as I could. I was never against service or volunteering, but it wasn’t a high priority of mine to begin with. Now I see that it should have been. Many places want volunteers that can commit for more than just one day. If I had prioritized service more, I could have truly gotten involved in Barcelona. While I can’t turn back the clock, I can make this more of a priority for future trips. For example, I plan to look into the service trips Quinnipiac has during Spring break rather than looking for some resort to enjoy with my friends.
One key point I will take from this service experience is that volunteering for a huge cause can be easier than one thinks. I had always admired Doctors Without Borders from afar, but I never expected to actually work with them. I thought that I couldn’t join their cause because I don’t plan on being a doctor, and I’m not nearly as courageous as these doctors are. Now I see that if you take the time to look, you can find places like the Barcelona headquarters in which you can get involved in a different way. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” I don’t need to be a doctor to take part in Doctors Without Borders. This is why I chose the picture of the office setting inside the Barcelona Headquarters. It doesn’t include operation tables, syringes, or stethoscopes, but the people that work in that office still play a crucial role in the organization’s mission.