December 17, 2015
Every year, hundreds of Canadians work overseas with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), delivering front-line medical care in most of the nearly 70 countries around the world where MSF carries out lifesaving emergency healthcare programs.
 

Name: 

Cynthia Keza Birikundavyi

Hometown: 

Montreal, but my family is originally from Burundi.
 

Role with MSF: 

Human Resources and Finance Administrator
 

Most recent posting: 

I was in Niger, where MSF is responding to acute malnutrition in children between 0-5 years old.
 

What impact did you see MSF having? 

MSF has drastically improved the access to healthcare for the population, and the swift and efficient manner in which we responded to the meningitis epidemics of May 2015 undoubtedly saved numerous lives. 
 

Please share one detail from your posting that made an impression on you: 

I think what I first noticed was the warm welcome I received from the national staff on the two projects I worked in during my stay in Niger. From the first day I arrived, they were willing to work with me, happy to answer my questions and open to my style. 
 

What is your professional background? 

I I have work experience in capacity building, administration and international relations within both non-governmental and governmental structures.
 

What made you want to work for MSF? 

I always wanted to work in humanitarian response, but what drove me to MSF is its culture of honesty, auto-criticism and self-improvement. I believe these values are key to improving the way we answer to disasters and crises.
 

How would you describe MSF to someone not familiar with the organization? 

MSF is an international non-governmental organization that provides crucial medical assistance during emergencies. It intervenes after disasters, during conflicts and in places where there are urgent medicals needs but few resources.
 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone heading to the field with MSF for the first time? 

Take the time you need to fully understand your role and responsibilities. Ask questions, be curious: it is always easier to elaborate creative ways to do your work if you understand how a specific task fits in the big picture.

Find an outlet and dedicate time to it. Writing or playing guitar (not too loud of course!), you have to find a way to process your experience as you go in order to stay physically and emotionally balanced!
 
 

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