#VolunteerDiaries: Dr Bruce

I was asked by Dr Siyana Mahroof-Shaffi to assume the senior physician role for the Kitrinos clinic in Moria Camp in Lesvos for the time I was there, and I also served as a mentor for the younger physicians there.

The Kitrinos clinic in Camp Moria does a fantastic job of using its very scarce resources and limited space to provide competent, compassionate medical care. The pharmacy is amazing, the support personnel and logistics were wonderful and responsive, and the clinic coordinators provided unbelievably great instruction and guidance to me every single day. Kitrinos enjoys an excellent reputation in the camp, I believe, largely due to their efforts. The translators were fantastic, tireless, and absolutely instrumental to the care delivered. In a very short period of time, Kitrinos has accomplished so much to further the humanitarian needs of so many.

While it was an incredible help to be surrounded by volunteers who had a good team morale and who were always looking out for one another, I can’t say that volunteering in Camp Moria was easy. There is a serious mental health crisis amongst refugees in the camp, and with few medical NGOs on the ground, unfortunately the needs of those suffering from psychological issues are not sufficiently being met. I have never before witnessed such a degree of psychological dysfunction as I did in Moria.

The greatest challenges I faced were the unmet needs of a significant portion of patients suffering from severe PTSD, depression, suicidality, anxiety, insomnia, psychosis, uncontrolled anger, and an overall perception of hopelessness. Perception of safety is the most basic of human needs, yet I met few refugees who felt safe in the camp. Hope is a scarcity in Moria and cruelty is something the refugees face daily.

If the Greek government is hoping to make Camp Moria a deterrent to further immigration, then I think they are succeeding.

- Dr Bruce, Kitrinos Healthcare volunteer, March 2019

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