Hila, the daily life of an Afghan maternity hospital

health / environment

Médecins Sans Frontières mission in Afghanistan

Médecins Sans Frontières is an international medical humanitarian association founded in Paris in 1971 by doctors and journalists. Today, it operates not only in France, but also in 60 other countries where it provides medical assistance to populations whose lives or health are threatened. On the basis of its activities and the reality observed in the field, MSF communicates publicly to bear witness to the plight of the populations it helps, and to provide information on the scale, effectiveness and objectives of the relief efforts undertaken.

In Afghanistan, the Khost maternity hospital is one of the busiest in the world, with almost 2,000 births a month! The teams on site are made up of internationals and local recruits. Local women are trained as nurses, midwives and doctors. MSF has become the leading employer of women in the region.

In this context, with its strong tribal culture, photographing or filming women -both patients and staff- poses a problem. The idea of calling on The Ink Link to invite an artist into the field to depict the NGO's daily life and activities through drawings was therefore an obvious one. Comics also provide an original way of telling a story, integrating environmental and emotional aspects.

An artist in a maternity hospital

The challenge was simple: immerse herself for 10 days with the teams and, on her return, recount her daily life in comic strip form to raise awareness among readers. To carry out this mission, Aurélie Neyret was chosen by MSF for her colorful, dynamic style. The NGO was keen to show a different face of the country from the dull, devastated landscapes. Far from the memory of the American bombardment in 2015, it's the lives of women and children that come to the fore here.

During her stay in December 2017, Aurélie Neyret transmitted her daily logbook with sketches, watercolors and observations. She met the teams on site, lived alongside them, witnessed multiple births and was able to chat with the people welcomed into the maternity ward.

From everyday life to fiction

On her return, Aurélie Neyret drew her encounters and observations to create an original screenplay. Through fiction, she was able to present the work of Médecins Sans Frontières teams and the experiences of women in this maternity hospital in Afghanistan. Our artist then drew and colored the 26 pages.

The comic is available to read online on the website of our partner Lyon Capitale. It has already been translated into English, Arabic and Portuguese, and distributed in Lebanon and Brazil.

An exhibition presenting Aurélie Neyret's mission has been produced and can be booked for your events and public venues.
It takes the form of 10 1m50 panels and retraces the project from its genesis to the final comic strip via the logbooks.