Ten Upper Canada College IB1 geography students, accompanied by teachers Ian Toope and Joanne Hogan, gained awareness and empathy while taking part in the sixth annual Refugee Camp in the Heart of Campus on Sept. 26.
The event was hosted by the Friends of Médecins Sans Frontières’ (Doctors Without Borders’) University of Toronto chapter, a student organization with a mandate to draw attention to the value of the international medical relief, humanitarian aid and emergency care provided by MSF Canada’s current field projects.
The mock refugee camp was held at U of T’s Hart House Circle and provided an educational experience for students while promoting awareness and understanding of the life of refugees and aid workers through informational and hands-on activities.
The event’s free, guided morning and afternoon sessions totalled 2.5 hours and featured several interactive stations meant to mimic refugee camp conditions. Tents were set up where educators talked about the challenges refugees face with regards to health, vaccination, water, sanitation and nutrition. There are 43 million people worldwide living as refugees or internally displaced people, many of whom lack clean drinking water, secure shelter and an adequate food supply.
The water and sanitation tent explored the importance of water and sanitation and demonstrated various practices and tools used in refugee camps to ensure the availability of clean drinking water. Students learned about food rations and the crisis of malnutrition at the nutrition tent.
The medical tent dealt with the treatment of illness and injuries of individuals living in camps. Students learned about some of the most prevalent diseases that require treatment by MSF workers, including tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS. The suturing tent provided students with the opportunity to participate in first-hand suturing. Students in the vaccination tent learned some of the challenges that health care professionals face when administering vaccines (including a lack of documentation and medical history of patients) as well as the problems encountered when ordering, storing and transporting medicine.
MSF expats spoke about their field experiences during the lunch break, rounding out an educational and eye-opening day for the UCC boys.