#VolunteerDiaries: Dr. Patrizia

My name is Patrizia and I am an Emergency Medicine Resident Doctor. I’ve always had a strong interest in caring for people who are socially vulnerable, so after some experience as a medical volunteer in my home country, this year I decided to volunteer with Kitrinos Healthcare in Kara Tepe camp (Moria 2.0) in Lesvos.

Before I arrived, I was very focussed on the clinical aspects of the work I’d be doing, particularly the possibility of dealing with unknown, life-threatening scenarios and critical medical problems I may not be used to. I didn’t expect that the most difficult thing would be to hear my patients’ stories, listen to their hopes and fears and all the trials they face everyday while living in the camp. Instead of finding an acute emergency situation - something solvable with medicine and bandages - I found people living a chronic state of emergency: the unstable life, with its psychological burden and bureaucratic obstacles, had become their ‘new normal’.

One patient I particularly remember was an 11-year-old girl who came to us for systemic mycosis (a fungal infection) which was spreading all over her body. I remember the frustration her mother felt because of how long it took to access the right tests and treatment. It was basic care that I take for granted in the hospital at home, but for the girl and her mum it was something they had to fight to obtain.

I really have to thank the Kitrinos ground team for being so caring and so understanding of the ever-evolving needs of the people in the camp. Our Coordinator Georgia, Majd and all the interpreters showed me different perspectives and priorities I was not used to considering. They taught me patience and that there are a thousand different ways to take care of people, all of those ways important.

It has been a unique experience for my professional and especially my personal growth. What I found most rewarding was being able to help give the patients some sense of normality in their everyday chaos. I left with a strange mix of feelings in my stomach: frustration about the unfairness of the situation I was leaving behind, gratitude for having the opportunity to meet these amazing people, to hear their stories, and to witness incredible examples of resilience and rebirth.

- Doctor Patrizia, Volunteer for Kitrinos Healthcare, 2021.

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