Published on Oct 11, 2016

Helen Leatham is an Australian Registered Nurse who dedicated years to help improve conditions in some of the most devastated regions of the globe. After serving in an Australian aboriginal setting, Helen moved quickly to the ‘front lines’ with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) in Afghanistan, Sudan and Nepal.

Helen lived and worked in areas afflicted with constant warfare, desperate privation, and extreme heat (reaching 55 C/ 130 F). Malnutrition and dehydration were among the most common maladies affecting her patients, many of whom were newborns.
In the refugee camps where Helen worked “Doctors without Borders” were sometimes left without doctors too, and Helen took on monumental tasks of organizing life in camps besieged by war and negotiating a tenuous existence on behalf of her patients and the MSF staff. Finally, she was forced to organize evacuation when conditions became too dangerous.

MSF is a privately-funded institution and its firm resistance to official side-taking provoked both sides to potentially antagonistic actions. In Afghanistan, where US jets bombed an MSF hospital to smithereens, the MSF was also threatened by the Taliban resurgence. This did not prevent a happenstance roadside “lunch with the Taliban” as Helen tells in a curious story.

This is a fascinating interview. Helen’s oftentimes grim recollections are relieved with moments of heartwarming success. Helen’s understated intensity and uncommon strength in the face of difficult material conditions and wrenching emotional trials should be inspiring for all listeners.

For more information on MSF, please see their website: doctorswithoutborders.com

Helen can be found on Facebook, and her email is: helen.leatham@aapt.net.au

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of person(s) interviewed and do not necessarily reflect those of Alexandra Meadors and Galactic Connection.

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