Care in crisis

02 October 2018
7 min read
Volume 26 · Issue 10

Abstract

As a midwife with Médecins Sans Frontières, Jonquil Nicholl has travelled all over the world and has often been on the frontline when care is needed in an emergency. She shares some of her stories

I have long had an interest in working for an organisation like Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) (MSF). As a child, I would devour my grandparents' copies of National Geographic magazine and as soon as I could travel, I sought out different lifestyles and cultures. When I left school, I went to university to do a degree in Development Studies, which was aimed at understanding the needs and means of supporting developing countries.

It was during my own pregnancies that I became inspired to pursue midwifery. I met some wonderful compassionate midwives and this, combined with my desire to work abroad, made working for MSF a huge ambition of mine. I had to wait until my children grew up and left home before I could commit to spending months abroad, but this meant that I had a good deal of experience, which has helped me in the field.

My most recent assignment was on the search and rescue ship, Aquarius, in the central Mediterranean. This is not a typical MSF assignment, but it has an intensity that is difficult to put into words. There were normally around 40 people on board, including MSF medics, a search and rescue crew, the ship's crew, and journalists. We all worked together to rescue people fleeing from Libya in dangerously overcrowded boats, and we cared for them during the journey to a place of safety.

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