Sunday, January 14, 2018

Charity Sunday: Doctors Without Borders - #CharitySunday #conflict #emergencyresponse

Charity Sunday banner

We’ve reached the second Sunday of January already, which means it’s Charity Sunday once again. 

Today I’m supporting one of the organizations closest to my heart, Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins sans Frontières. MSF is a network of volunteer physicians and other health professionals who provide medical and humanitarian assistance around the world, in some of the most horrific environments and desperate situations on earth. MSF volunteers bravely help people victimized by disasters and conflicts, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or political affiliation. The organization is officially neutral (a stance that has seen them expelled from some countries where they are sorely needed). In 1999 MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – deeply deserved, in my opinion.

When a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti almost exactly seven years ago, MSF was there, treating the wounded and helping to prevent disease in the shanty towns of displaced Haitians. When super typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Visayas islands of the Philippines in 2013, killing more than 6000 people and affecting 11 million, MSF was on the ground in days, building field hospitals, providing clean water, serving the hordes left homeless. Today MSF is at work in the battlefields of Syria and the Central African Republic, dodging bullets as they try to meet the health and humanitarian needs of civilians fleeing from violence. In the refugee camps of Yemen and in Bangladesh, right now, MSF is battling separate epidemics of diptheria, a disease of the past that is a new threat due to shattered health systems and over-crowded living conditions.

I urge you to visit the MSF site, watch some of their videos, and consider making your own contribution. In any case, I will contribute one dollar for each comment I receive on this post.

If you want to do more, you might also consider purchasing a copy of Coming Together: In Vein, an anthology of vampire erotica and erotic romance that I edited. All sales from this book support MSF. 


Meanwhile, as usual, I have an excerpt to amuse you this Sunday. This bit comes from my MMF erotic romance Monsoon Fever. The book is set just after the first World War, at a tea plantation in Assam, India owned by a British couple. In this snippet, Priscilla and Jon Archer and their lawyer (soon to be lover) Anil Kumar help the people of the nearby village to deal with a landslide triggered by violent rains – exactly the sort of situation where MSF might deploy its resources. This excerpt has special poignancy given the recent, deadly mudslides in California.

Priscilla saw it first. The note was scrawled on a scrap torn from a ledger, and fastened to the dining room door frame with a nail.

Landslide at the village. Gone to help.” The writing was barely legible, but she recognised Jon’s hand.

A landslide! Priscilla recalled the heaps of mud and rock piled by the road on the way to Gauhati. 

“We must go to them,” Anil insisted, reading over her shoulder. “A landslide can bury a whole town, or sweep it away.” He searched her face. “Do you have shovels or picks? And buckets, buckets would be useful.”

In the utility shed, behind the house.” 

Anil was already on his way out the door.

Jon had taken most of the tools, but they found a short spade and a mattock. They grabbed them and scrambled up the slippery path toward the village, rain still washing over them in dense squalls. As they approached the site of the village, home to the plantation workers and their families, shouts filled the air. Lanterns flickered in the wet, black night.

Priscilla had visited the village several times, bringing sweets for the children and English soap for their mothers. She hardly recognised the scene of devastation before her now. There was no sign of the wooden huts that sheltered the workers. She saw only a vast sea of mud, with splintered planks and beams jutting out at odd angles. Half naked men dug frantically in the muck, looking like an army of demons in the shifting lantern-light. Children hung onto their mothers, wailing or watching the rescue efforts silent and wide-eyed. An elderly woman, tattered sari clinging to her wizened body, crouched under a tree half-crushed by a huge boulder.

Priscilla saw Jon near the far perimeter, wielding a shovel and yelling orders to the other men. She stumbled across the ex-village, the treacherous mud sucking at her feet, and threw herself into his arms.

Darling! I was so worried.” she cried. “Are you all right?”

Jonathan held her so tight she could scarcely breathe. His chest was bare and streaked with dirt. His blond hair was black with rain and soil. “Priscilla! Thank God! I’m so glad to see you!”

How bad is it?”

Bad—nearly all the houses were destroyed—but it could have been much worse. Most of the villagers were up at the shrine when the hillside gave way. We think that there are only a few people buried. We’re trying to find them before it’s too late.”

Let me help. I can dig, too.” She held up her spade. 

Jonathan looked at her for a moment, appraising her strength, then nodded. “Take the north east quadrant. Be careful—you don’t want to slice into someone that you’re trying to rescue.”

What about me? Where do you want me?” Anil had come up behind them during their embrace.

Anil! Wonderful! Can you organise the men working in the south west? I’m not sure that they understand everything that I’ve been telling them.”

Certainly, I’ll do what I can.” Anil strode off toward the group that Jon had indicated.

Priscilla waded over to the area Jon had assigned to her. The Indian men eyed her curiously as she dug her spade into the saturated dirt. The mud resisted, sticky and heavy as cement, but she refused to be discouraged. She raised one spade-full, then another, scanning her expanding excavation each time for any sign of a body.

Her shovel hit some buried wood. The impact sent a jarring shock back through her shoulders. She thought that the thump sounded hollow. Priscilla dug in again, listening more carefully. Definitely hollow.

All at once, she heard a muffled cry, a human voice. “Jon! Over here, I think there’s a partly collapsed house here, and someone’s inside. Alive!”

The men swarmed over to where she was digging. “Careful now,” Jon cautioned. Don’t disturb the timbers or the whole place might collapse.” He showed them how to lift off the soil in layers, standing away from the hole so that their weight would not affect the precariously balanced ruins underneath. It took half an hour, but finally they pulled an old man out of the ground, crushed and bleeding but conscious.

A shout rang out from the other side of the mud field. Anil’s group had located another body. Priscilla went over to lend her spade to the efforts. Digging side by side with her husband and the Indian lawyer, she worked steadily to strip away nearly two feet of dirt. Underneath, they found the mangled corpse of a woman cradling an infant. The woman was beyond help. The baby, though, let out a lusty wail as the fresh air filled its lungs.

Priscilla bent down and took the naked child in her arms. It was covered with scratches and abrasions, but miraculously unharmed otherwise. A boy, perhaps six months old. He looked up at her with chocolate coloured eyes and cooed, waving his chubby limbs.

Tears streamed down Priscilla’s cheeks, mingling with the raindrops.

~ ~ ~

Please leave a comment. Every one means a dollar for Doctors Without Borders. In fact, to encourage you further, I will give away an ebook copy of Monsoon Fever to one randomly selected individual who comments on this post.


Kenn Dahll said...

It's wonderful of you to do this in support of MSF - a great charity.

Erzabet Bishop said...

Wonderful support!

Tina Donahue said...

Wonderful idea - shared! :)

Helena Stone said...

Of course I'll comment. MSF is such a very worthwhile organisation to support. And, I should add that the except was riveting. I clearly need to read the rest of this story :)

Marle said...

What a great volunteer organization to support. Thanks for your contributions and a great read too.

sxswann said...

MSF is such a great organization. Thanks for doing this and also for the great excerpt!

Colleen C. said...

Wonderful cause... thanks for sharing!

Cheyenne Blue said...

Another charity Sunday, another wonderful charity to support. Thank you, Lisabet.

Lindsey R. Loucks said...

That's a tense scene! Thank you for sharing!

bn100 said...

nice cause

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

H K Carlton said...

Another great organization to support.

Karen Komarinski said...

Shared #CharitySunday #conflict #emergencyresponse

Anonymous said...

A great cause to support. Thank you for the post and excerpt! No need to count me in for the giveaway.

Iris B said...

Kudos to you for supporting such a great organisation. Will share.
(PS don't worry about adding me to the giveaway ;-) )

Lucy Felthouse said...

Another fantastic post and cause, Lisabet, well done!

Anonymous said...

Such an amazing organization...and you can't beat a good MMF!

--Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(dot)com

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thanks to everyone who commented. I'm off to donate $20 to MSF.

Please come back this Sunday for February's Charity Sunday post.

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