Tripoli, Libya: Up close and personal

with MSF Triploli team

16 Nov 21

November 16th, 2021- Our Libyan colleagues in the MSF Tripoli project have been the driving force behind the running of our operations, especially under the consistent uncertainty around visa restrictions and constraints on the movement of international staff into Libya. Since the early stages of the MSF Tripoli project, our Libyan colleagues have been working around the clock to ensure the smooth running of activities. We took the time to get “up close and personal” with our Libyan colleagues to learn more about their personal experiences, the determination, and the resilience we saw in them, and their sincere dedication to this extremely challenging project.

HATEM, DOCTOR

Started working with MSF: June 2018

“The most enjoyable part of my work is the teamwork and the team spirit. Leaving the office every morning to run our mobile clinics in the urban areas of Tripoli, our team rush to load up the vans with medical supplies and medicines for our patients"

MSF doctor listens carefully as patient describes medical complaint during consultation at the MSF mobile clinic in Tripoli. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).

"It is beautiful to see these collective efforts and feel the harmony among team members working for the sole purpose of providing care."

Happiness and relief

"When we arrive at the location where we set up our mobile clinic, the sight of vulnerable people waiting for us so to arrive so they can have a medical check-up – just as we look forward to seeing them – fills me with happiness and relief."

Patients waiting to be examined by MSF medical team in the mobile clinic in Tripoli. (Tripoli, Libya, June 2021).

"On several occasions, when they receive their prescription note, patients have asked me: ‘Where do I go to get this medicine?’

"When I direct them to my nurse colleague, who is standing next to me, the person smiles with relief – they don’t have to go to a private pharmacy to pay for a medicine they desperately need. This gives me joy to see."

Completely different person

"One of the things that motivates me to go to work every day is being able to provide follow-up for my patients."

"I work mostly with patients who have suffered trauma injuries – I do the stitches for the patient or make a cast for their fractured limbs."

MSF doctor examines patient during medical consultations provided by the mobile clinics that MSF runs in Tripoli’s neighbourhoods for vulnerable migrants and refugees. (Tripoli, Libya, April 2021).

"Being able to directly witness the improvement in their condition, seeing their wounds heal, seeing them regain the mobility and functionality they had before their injury, seeing their satisfaction – all of this brings me joy."

"The person I am today is completelty different from the person I was before I joined MSF"

"The Hatem I was before didn’t know about the specific needs of the migrants and refugees we see in Libya, or about their living conditions and circumstances."

"This has definitely changed my perspective towards migrants in general, and towards those in need of medical care in particular."

A general look at MSF’s mobile clinic in Gargaresh neighbourhood, one of Tripoli’s known hubs for migrants and refugees in Libya. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).

"The Hatem I am now is much more knowledgeable about the situation of migrants and refugees. Now I can speak about their needs and suffering and encourage others not to prejudge them or treat them unfairly."

"It really affected me to learn that the people we meet through work have been forced to leave their homeland, their families and their loved ones behind for the sake of finding a better life."

"When you learn what they’ve been through to achieve this – the risks they experienced on their hard and dangerous journeys to Libya, the ordeal they faced in detention centres and at sea – it cannot help but have an impact on you.”

AREEJ, DOCTOR

Started working with MSF: September 2017

“What is enjoyable about my work is the ability to provide medical assistance to migrants and refugees who have left their countries and are living far from their families and loved ones and who have come here to find a dignified life."

A glimpse into the MSF mobile clinic in Tripoli, where MSF provides basic medical care.  ​(Tripoli, Libya, August 2021)

"We are exposed to new people and new stories every day, and we see the direct and positive impact of our assistance when we see patients again and follow up on their health conditions."

Changed perception

"I have become a more mature and stronger person because of this job."

MSF’s mobile clinic in one of Tripoli’s neighbourhoods. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).
"I’ve become more grateful for the smallest things in my life, and more open and approachable to others."

"My perception of  migrants and refugees has completely changed: I have grown closer to them and I now relate to their pain and their suffering"

"MSF has added a lot to my life on both professional and personal levels. I met my husband at work: he's also a doctor, who works tirelessly to help vulnerable people. This is another reason why I am very grateful to MSF."

MSF’s mobile clinic in one of Tripoli’s neighbourhoods. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).

"During my work in the community, I have seen people who could not afford the medicine to treat even a simple headache or to manage their high blood pressure."

"We started providing care to them, following up closely on their conditions, and we started seeing real improvements: blood pressure declining, blood sugar regulating."

Lives started to change

"People with chest infections that needed further investigation were urgently referred to one of our supported clinics and received treatment if it turned out to be tuberculosis. People's lives started to change and we saw this change with our own eyes."

MSF’s mobile clinic in one of Tripoli’s neighbourhoods. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).

"I had one especially memorable night at work. It was almost three years ago. One of our patients, who was seven-months pregnant, was being followed up by our doctors, as part of the mother and child healthcare we provide."

"She was a very calm and peaceful woman from Central Africa. She never complained about anything. At every visit, when we asked about her health, she’d reply: ‘All is well, all is well.’ "

Surgery needed instantly 

"That night I was the doctor on call. I received a call from a detention centre saying they had a pregnant woman in a critical condition with abdominal pains."

"When she arrived at one of our supported clinics, her blood pressure was extremely elevated and her placenta was completely separated from the uterus, so she needed urgently to undergo surgery."

A glimpse into the MSF mobile clinic in Tripoli, where MSF provides basic medical care.

"The doctor at the clinic called me and apologised that she could not operate on the woman as she did not have the specialist team to do so."

"She advised me to transfer her to the general hospital. I tried my best to get her admitted to the general hospital, but unfortunately we have issues getting non-Libyans admitted to these hospitals."

Admit her as a favour

"Finally I decided to accompany the woman myself in the ambulance, so that perhaps I could persuade former colleagues or friends in these hospitals to admit her as a favour."

MSF doctor listens carefully as patient describes medical complaint during consultation at the MSF mobile clinic in Tripoli. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).

"At around 3 am, my father sat behind the wheel of the car and we drove behind the ambulance until we reached the first hospital. I convinced the medical staff there that this operation was urgent, otherwise the woman might die."

"I even signed a pledge in which I took full responsibility for her, and eventually they agreed to do the surgery."

"Unfortunately, the baby did not make it, but the mother did. She had an eclamptic fit, which is one of the most serious medical conditions and could have been fatal for the mother, but she survived, by a miracle."

"She fixed her tired eyes at mine, and with a faint voice she uttered words of complete appreciation to MSF, and to me, for perseverance. This is one night that will always be carved in my memory.”

ZAENAB, DOCTOR

Started working with MSF: February 2021

“An elderly man arrived at one of the detention centres in Tripoli. It seems he had become separated from his 10-year-old daughter. He kept asking where she was."

MSF’s mobile clinic in one of Tripoli’s neighbourhoods. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).

"He’d heard nothing of her since the day he arrived at the detention centre. He didn’t know where she had ended up – was she in another detention centre or somewhere else?"

Sheer chance

"By sheer chance, my colleague heard the story and the name and description of his daughter, and realised that the girl was in the very same detention centre as her father."

"She had been living in the same place as her father for over a month, yet neither one knew that the other was there."

MSF’s mobile clinic in one of Tripoli’s neighbourhoods. (Tripoli, Libya, August 2021).

"Our team talked to the guards and explained the situation and we were able to arrange for them to meet. The reunion was heartbreaking to watch."

"Our team were very emotional; they cried at the sight of the man and his daughter hugging and kissing in disbelief. It is a situation I will never forget.”

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