"My Father's Illness Guided My Career in Health and Humanitarian Work"

Berlin / Goma, 17. August 2018

The World Humanitarian Day (WHD) on 19 August was created to pay tribute to aid workers who are constantly striving and risking their lives in order to assist people within humanitarian crises. It was designated in memory of the 22 people who died in 2003 in the bombing attack at UN-headquarter (Canal Hotel) in Baghdad, Iraq. Furthermore, the day draws attention to all civilians, who lose their lifes every year because of disregarded International Humanitarian Law. In 2017, at least 313 aid workers have been victims of violent attacks. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) experiences one of the largest humanitarian crises worldwide and a risky environment for aid workers: Ebola, armed conflicts and ethnic tensions have contributed to Millions of refugees and a health system full of gaps. Dr. Edmond Djinhiba from Ivory Coast is Johanniter´s Coordinator for Pharmacy and Supply in DRC. Here he explains his motivation to work as aid worker:

“After my high school diploma, my father became seriously ill and was admitted to hospital. He was a poor farmer who had no major income. At the hospital there were laboratory tests to do, medicines and the hospital stay to pay for. All this required money and it was necessary to pay before being treated and further examined. Unfortunately we didn't have the money to meet all these expenses and my father was suffering seriously. I had to pursue continuously the doctors and nurses, begging them to treat my father. Nobody was taking care of us, but with the help of God and some good will, my father achieved to leave the hospital.

Regarding this experience, I made the decision to continue my studies in the health field to help the poor just like my father. When I submitted my files to the University in the Department of Health (Medicine, Pharmacy), I was directed into the pharmacy branch. This made me happy, because I was convinced that my dream comes true.

After my doctorate in pharmacy, I was posted in May 2007 to the University Hospital Center of Bouaké (CHU) which is the fourth largest hospital of Ivory Coast. A year later, I was appointed head of the pharmacy department. During my career in this hospital, I was experiencing desperate and outstanding situations. People who would die because they didn't have the money to pay for drugs or tests, nursing staff who were insensitive to the suffering of the sick, the lack of certain equipment at the hospital, breaks in certain inputs etc. Sometimes I could help some patients, but not everyone. I was very sensitive to this suffering and I told myself that this place was not the right for me, because I could not bear all the suffering of poor patients losing their dignity.

NGOs like Johanniter ensure basic medical services in several regions of DRC. ©Paul Hahn

To keep my human side, I really had to look somewhere else. One day I applied as a volunteer with Médicins sans Frontières and - with God's grace - I was selected. That is how I integrated in the humanitarian world, sensitive to the suffering of the human being and wanting to give him his dignity. This humanitarian world is in which I feel very happy to help others, to know and understand them. Even though my father passed away in 2010, his illness played a major role in my choice to enter into the humanitarian world."

Johanniter as member of The Charter for Change network has signed a statement regarding the World Humanitarian Day 2018.

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