An MSF field worker once said, ‘Love is as effective as medicines. It enables some patients to recover incredibly fast.’ This statement cannot be verified scientifically. Yet, there is some truth in it, as reflected in the stories from the front line.
Since Europe’s migration crisis unfolded, a lot of refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece. Some of them have temporarily settled in a refugee camp set up in an abandoned spa hotel in Thermopylae. While providing mental health support, the MSF team met Khitam Sa’edi, 22, who has sought refuge there. Khitam boarded a boat after facing domestic violence for years, being beaten and threatened with death. In order to survive, she had no choice but to leave her two young children and her home country, Iraq. “I still can’t get over the fact that I’ve left my children. I cry whenever I think of them,” said Khitam.
Khitam’s destiny has changed, from the moment she met the 26-year-old Mohammad Al-Sudani on the same boat. Mohammad left Iraq because of religious persecution. Seeing Khitam on her own, Mohammad decided to look after her. “I just asked him for an air pump to fill my safety vest. No other idea occurred to me,” recalled Khitam, who is now Mohammad’s wife. At the age of 14, Khitam was forced into marriage, which brought massive physical and psychological trauma. Now, Khitam has found love in a hopeless place, and she firmly believes that he is the right one.
We find the kind of love we are looking for through experience. This also happens in affluent places like Hong Kong. “My wife and I were classmates in university. During those five years, we were very good friends. Having gone through some experiences respectively after graduation, we have realised that the most suitable and important one has always been there and it is each other,” said Angus. The couple decided to get married after dating for four years. Sharing the same occupation and similar values in life, Angus and his wife made a special arrangement in their wedding banquet – they donated the budget for wedding favours to MSF, and put a thank you card of the organisation on each of their guests’ seats.
Angus and his wife think that wedding favour donation can share happiness to people in need. Photo source: Angus Ho
“We are both medical workers, and know very well that medical training is tough. MSF field workers have to complete their training, accumulate work experience, and leave their stable job to deliver medical care to people in need. That’s really admirable,” said Angus. “Besides, while we were preparing for our wedding, we heard that MSF medical facilities were attacked. That further prompted us to support their work.” To Angus and his wife, ‘happiness’ is the least wasteful wedding favour. “We’ve noticed that many guests would forget about the gift. Or they would think the gift is not of use and leave it at the venue. It’s not only a waste of material, but also the effort of the bride and groom. So why not donate to MSF and share our happiness and blessings with people most in need?”
In the first eight months of 2018, 170 couples donated to MSF through the Wedding Favour Donation Campaign, instead of preparing traditional wedding favours for the guests on their special day. These donations enabled us to provide medical care independently, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. “We respect MSF’s principles in delivering aid, and its decades of efforts in responding to medical humanitarian emergencies around the world. That’s why we decided to donate to the organisation,” said Jennifer, who got married in mid-2017.
Jennifer and her husband first met in Africa. Out of their concern about the disadvantaged communities, they participated in the same trip filming grassroots NGOs in several countries in the continent. Jennifer said, “Donating wedding favours corresponds to our personalities. It’s also well-received by our guests. What better way to celebrate our special moment than by sharing our love with those communities in need?” The love shared by these newlyweds supports people in distress to overcome their difficulties like Khitam who would probably take a long time to overcome the psychological trauma of leaving her children. But with the mental health support provided by MSF, she would gradually walk out of despair and build a family, even in hopelessness.
Interested couples please email to [email protected]