Sketching the field work... and showing life in a maternity hospital!

health / environment

An artist in Afghanistan

In December 2017, Aurélie Neyret travelled with Médecins Sans Frontières to the Khost maternity hospital in Afghanistan to produce a comic book that would show from the inside the lives of the women who come there to give birth and the teams who work there. But before creating the pages in her studio, she produced some superb sketches in the field, which are an opportunity to share her experience and show with finesse the faces of the mission.

Making a projet with The Ink Link takes time. For the final result to be moving, the artists have to meet the people in the field, and be present at the day-to-day running of the projects... Only then can they write and illustrate a script!

Travel diaries

During field missions, our artists often fill in sketchbooks, which are first-hand accounts of their experiences. Sharing these drawings is also an opportunity to develop a one-off campaign, on social networks for example, which will show another side of the daily life of NGOs or institutions. Aurélie's notebooks are a fine illustration of the possibilities offered by sketchbooks.

December 4, 2017

Today I went to the Dasht E Barchi hospital in Kabul, in an area with a large Hazara community. The latter are an ethnic minority in Afghanistan, they have strong Asian origins and are Shiite.
They are less conservative than other ethnic groups (as far as Afghan norms are concerned, of course), which enabled me to walk around freely and talk to many women with the help of translators, even in the delivery room.

There, I saw something raw, ancient, fragile and beautiful. I witnessed the incredible strength of women. These ladies are warriors... They really are! I saw the battle for life as it has always been.
I heard a baby's first cry in this world.

I saw a child being born. : ')

December 5, 2017

A few sketches at the MSF Afghanistan Ahmed Shah Baba hospital in Kabul.

Located in a very poor neighborhood, this hospital is not just a maternity hospital. Residents also go there to be vaccinated or to see a doctor when their children are ill.
Once again, the MSF team, both expatriates and locals, is inspiring and passionate, with many anecdotes, both happy and sad.
I wasn't able to spend much time there for logistical reasons, but tomorrow a new destination awaits me... If all goes according to plan, which is never certain in Afghanistan!

December 9, 2017

The Médecins Sans Frontières maternity hospital in Khost is one of the largest in the world. In the last 24 hours, they've had 83 births-a real baby factory!
We're 30 kilometers from the Pakistan border, in Pashtun territory. This is a very conservative ethnic group, and being a woman here is a constant struggle, from the moment they are born. Every woman here is a fighter, and yet they are all very welcoming, loving and caring. My heart goes out to them every second.

MSF's work in this community has an impact on health, of course, thanks to a safe place to give birth and high quality care, but it also has an impact on social life. Médecins Sans Frontières is the largest employer of women in the region. Women don't usually work; here, many come from disadvantaged villages, where they find access to work and education. They start out by doing housework, and then, inspired by others, they push themselves to become midwives. All this while raising their own children. They build strong relationships with each other, like sisters.

I'm also very moved by the bond between the international team: 2 men and 10 determined women aged from 26 to 70, who come from 8 different countries and bring this place to life with so much energy and love!

December 11, 2017

Afghanistan has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. Let's talk about the everyday heroes who work here at the Médecins Sans Frontières maternity hospital in Khost, giving women and babies the chances they deserve.

Education is another very important aspect of the project, and increasing the number of qualified local people is crucial to improving the situation in the long term. It's humbling to see them all working so hard and passing on their knowledge.

December 13, 2017

At Khost, men and women are segregated. This means that the majority of the teams are female: midwives, doctors, cleaners, pharmacists, health promoters, nurses. That said, men play an important role in ensuring women's health and safety.

Every time a woman comes to the maternity ward, a male relative waits for her in a separate area until she's ready to go home, or if a decision needs to be made about a life-saving operation such as a C-section. They are also, like the patients, educated on the importance of access to medical care, breastfeeding and family planning.
Of course, doctors and other professionals are also involved in the smooth running of the maternity unit.

December 27, 2017

Here are the latest drawings from Afghanistan, made on a day visiting an MSF-supported community health center in Gurbuz, outside Khost.

It's important to develop a network of places dedicated to health, where more people can access quality services, a maternity hospital is not enough for the needs of the region. With its 5 community centers around Khost, Médecins Sans Frontières supports other organizations, called OHPM, to train local midwives who will work hard to provide the best possible care for the region's women and children.