Author: mariana

Photostory | Türkiye: “Homes have turned into a place of fear, a place that kills”

Publication for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – April 2023

© Mariana Abdalla/MSF

In February, massive earthquakes struck the south of Türkiye and north-western Syria.

In Türkiye, the earthquakes have directly impacted more than 9 million people in eleven provinces in the southern part of the country, hosting 16 percent of the country’s people. As of early April, more than 50,300 people have died, more than 3 million have been displaced and more than 2 million have been living in formal and informal settlements across earthquake affected areas.

Now, more than two months after the first earthquakes, people are having to grapple with the post-traumatic stress of these events. Aftershocks are still occurring every day. According to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), over 25,000 aftershocks have occurred since the February 6 earthquakes, 47 of them higher than magnitude 5 on the Richter scale. In addition, heavy rains have also led to flooding in some areas.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is supporting local non-profit organisations in Türkiye conducting psychosocial activities in affected areas, including Adıyaman and Malatya provinces.Here, people in these areas share their stories and feelings, and psychologists from MSF supported organisations highlight the growing mental health needs and the psychological impact of the disaster.”

“We still can’t think clearly.”

Abdurrahman Can is the leader of Başpınar (Küllüm) village in Adıyaman.

Here, people in these areas share their stories and feelings, and a psychologist from an MSF supported organisation highlights the growing mental health needs and the psychological impact of the disaster.

“I lost my daughter-in-law and my grandchild. I kept my grandchild’s body in the car for two days until we could finally find his mother’s body and bury them both. We didn’t even get a shroud. We wrapped them with a blanket. The hospitals were full of dead bodies.

I have four children, two girls and two boys. One of them lost his wife and child. Another one was able to get his child out of the rubble alive. All their houses are gone, there is nothing left. They couldn’t get anything out.

We paid a price, we lost lives, we lost a lot of property.During the first days we were sleeping in our cars. Now we are staying in tents; we cannot go inside [our house].

There is a lot of fear. There are aftershocks a couple of times a day, every day. We still can’t even think clearly. We lost our sleeping patterns. We are starting to have family issues.

We need material and moral support. Everyone is stressed, but we are trying to recover. We are here as a family, trying to hold on to life. Now, at least we know that someone is listening to us.”

“It will take a long time to repair this.”

Nazlı Sinem Koytak is a psychologist for İmece İnisiyatifi, a local NGO supported by MSF, in Adıyaman.

“Usually, after a life-threatening event has passed, people are comforted, and we expect their fear to lessen as time goes by.

Unfortunately, though, since aftershocks continue to happen, we are seeing that people’s fears are very much alive and not decreasing. People are physically and mentally tired.

The majority of people we talked to shared that they are too scared to enter their homes. They do not feel safe inside. Even if they must go inside during the day, they try to leave as fast as they can and spend the night in tents. This is true even for people who have their houses only slightly damaged.”

“In one of the villages, the participants said their houses ‘had now turned into monsters’. People used to take refuge in their homes, but now homes have turned into a place of fear, a place that kills them.

It will take a long time to repair this.

Therefore, in our work, we prioritise a number of activities that restore people’s trust in the family, especially between parents, children and adolescents.”

“Earthquakes on the one hand and rain on the other.”

Semra Karaca, Sultan Kodaş, Hüseyin Kodaş and Şengül Kodaş (from left to right) live together as a family in Ören village, on the outskirts of Malatya.

“There are earthquakes on the one hand and rain on the other. We don’t know what will happen in the future. I’m here with my wife, my siblings, my children and my mother.

Our belongings are drowned in water because of the flood, we can’t find anything to wear, the neighbour brought us these clothes for now. We were staying in a tent, but the tent got flooded too.

We are now trying to dry what we took out of the house, including our family photos.

The children are scared. The situation is very dire.”

“I feel hopeless about this village.”

Yusuf Eren Ozkan, 22, is a student at Düzce Univeristy. He wants to be a chef. During the first week of February 2023, he went back to his villages, Polat, Malatya, for a break.

“I came to visit my parents when I had a break from school. The night of the first earthquakes, I was playing video games in my room. At first, I thought it was going to stop shaking after a few seconds, but then I realised this was going to be bigger.

After the first earthquake, me and my family still stayed in our house, and we turned on the TV and tried to find out what happened through the news. That’s when the second earthquake happened, and things got a bit tougher for us.

We went outside and it was very cold, there was a lot of snow on the ground and falling from the sky. Then a rock fell and hit me and my father, and we were injured. We eventually set up a tent by ourselves for protection.

Now, me and my family are working in a communal restaurant, making and serving food for about 4,000 people. I’m here to help, I Iove Polat, but I feel hopeless about this village now. I have many dreams and I just want to live somewhere else. I want to pursue my dream of becoming a chef.”

“Nothing stays in my head. I can’t study.”

Eylül, 13, and Emine, 11, are sisters and live in Kayatepe (Rezip) village, Adıyaman.

“On the night of the earthquakes, there were sounds of buildings collapsing and I could see lights in the sky.

I heard people screaming ‘save me!’. The weather conditions were also difficult at that time, it was snowy and rainy.

I can’t sleep well these days. I also can’t study. It feels like all the information I had in mind is now gone. Whatever I used to know before, I don’t know anymore,” says Eylül.

Emine is also feeling the impact of people moving away.

“I had friends, but they all left because of the earthquake. I miss them all very much. There is no one here. I just stay at home watching TV.

Before the earthquake, I used to go to school, then I would come back home, and I would read my book and play with my friends. Now there are no friends, and I can’t concentrate when reading my book, nothing stays in my head because of the stress.”

Photostory | Having a safe pregnancy in Cabo Delgado

Publication for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – May 2022

© Mariana Abdalla/MSF

In Cabo Delgado, Mozambique ongoing violence has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safety. Eduardo Mondlane camp, located in Mueda, is home to more than 2,000 displaced families. 

Many people walked long distances and left their families behind to reach Eduardo Mondlane camp. Others were separated from their loved ones in their travels or witnessed the death of family members because of violence, poor living conditions, and lack of medical care. 

In the camp, many pregnant women have little to no information about pregnancy and there are many challenges to having a safe childbirth. Since October 2021, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health promotion team in Mueda has partnered with community leaders and traditional birth attendants in Eduardo Mondlane camp to support pregnant women and young children.

Atija Bacar is 66 years old and lives in Eduardo Mondlane camp for displaced people in Mueda, in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. She is originally from Mocímboa da Praia, a town heavily hit by attacks due to the ongoing conflict in the northern province. She now works with MSF as a traditional birth attendant (TBA) and assists more than 100 women in the camp. Like many of them, she lived through traumatic experiences, witnessing her husband’s and son’s murder. Now, she says she loves doing her job since she can help women in their time of need – “When I arrived here, this place was a forest. Some good people helped me to get settled. Now I can also help pregnant women. I know they need my support.”

Atija Bacar, 66 years old, lives in Eduardo Mondlane camp, where she also works with MSF as a traditional birth attendant. She is originally from Mocímboa da Praia, a town that has been heavily impacted in the ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado.

Atija provides care to more than 100 women in the camp. Like many of them, she has lived through traumatic experiences, including witnessing the murder of her husband and son. “When I arrived here, this place was a forest,” says Atija. “Some good people helped me to get settled. Now I can also help pregnant women. I know they need my support.”

Atija Bacar, MSF traditional birth attendant (TBA), at Eduardo Mondlane camp, counsels Amina, 17 years old and 9 months pregnant, and the women in her family.

One of the team’s main goals is to have more women go to the hospital while they are in labour so they can be supported through a safe birth in a sanitised space.

Atija and other birth attendants organize regular talks with pregnant women to pass on health promotion messages, practical logistical information, and to let them know about MSF’s transportation services to the hospital. A chopela, a small motorized three-wheeled vehicle, is always available to transport people to the hospital. The birth attendants regularly visit with women before childbirth and follow up with them after they have given birth.

Muanajuma is from Mocímboa da Praia and has been in Mueda for two years. She had her first son in Palma, while on the run from attacks, and is now pregnant again while residing in Eduardo Mondlane camp for people who are internally displaced.

Our community work with traditional birth attendants in Eduardo Mondlane camp is ongoing, but the team is already thrilled with the positive impacts the initiative is having on women and their families. In January 2022, 33 per cent of the pregnant women living in Eduardo Mondlane camp delivered their babies at a medical facility. In April 2022, that number reached 75 per cent.

Aina Muinde is from Mocímboa da Praia and is 20 years old. She had her first child three days before this picture was taken. She says she is happy to have her baby by her side but is also having a hard time since the father of the child passed away of unknown sickness.


A series of portraits accompanied by testimonies where Venezuelan migrants and asylum seekers talk about items, dreams, skills, and memories they carry with them as they navigate their migration process.

©Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF

Read their testimonies in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Media coverage:

O Globo – Boné, máquina de costura ou apenas a roupa do corpo: venezuelanos contam o que trouxeram antes de migrar para o Brasil


Official Selection – The World Health Organization’s Health for All Film Festival 2022

©Médecins Sans Frontières


Tefé was among the remote towns in the Amazon region affected by the collapse of the health system in the state capital, Manaus, in January. At the height of the emergency, even critically ill patients could not be referred to better-equipped hospitals in Manaus for treatment. 

Bonifácia de Oliveira celebrated her 109th birthday in the COVID-19 ward of Tefé Regional Hospital in Brazil’s Amazonas state. The centenarian’s strong spirit and sense of humor made a deep impact on the team as they worked to respond to a devastating second wave of COVID-19 sweeping the region earlier this year. 

Video | FINN

Video | A documentary short story about Finn, a 81 years old Danish retired bricklayer that recently lost his wife and traveled abroad for the first time after she passed away in 2015. Finn travelled on a bike from Denmark to Norway as part of a Cycling Without Age long-ride trip.

Part of a narrative storytelling project developed for Cycling Without Age, a not-for-profit organization in Denmark.




  • Envision Kindness Student Photography and Film Contest – 1st place ‘Popular Choice Award’


  • All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival 2016
    3rd place – Student Documentary Film
    1st place – Audience Choice Award; Super Short Documentary
  • Headwaters Film Festival 2016
    Second prize
  • NYC Short Documentary Film Festival 2016
    Official Selection
  • Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival 2016
    Official Selection

  • Full Bloom Film Festival 2016
    Official Selection

  • New Urbanism Film Festival 2016
    Official Selection



Videos | MSF’s COVID-19 activities in Brazil

A retrospective video and a selection of 2 web clips highlighting MSF’s presence and humanized medical care in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 25 original videos were created and shared with the MSF movement worldwide between 2020-2021.

©Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF

Caring for isolated communities

During the months of June and July 2021, MSF supported local health structures in the municipality of Portel, on the island of Marajó, Brazil. This video was produced during an eight-day boat trip, visiting riverside communities along the Anapu River.

©Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF

COVID-19: Indigenous care in São Gabriel da Cachoeira

São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Brazilian municipality with the greatest indigenous predominance in the country, was affected by a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in the state of Amazonas between January and February 2021. MSF treated moderate cases in a primary health care unit and implemented rapid antigen testing. Health promotion teams also carried out activities in the Baniwa, Nheengatu, Tukano and Portuguese languages on prevention and social distancing measures, as well as distributed hygiene kits.

©Médecins Sans Frontières


Videos | In the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, patients and experts talk about the pain and consequences of living with leishmaniasis, a neglected disease. 

A video, documentary journalistic series produced by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) in Latin America, a collaborative, patients’ needs-driven, non-profit drug research and development (R&D) organization that is developing new treatments for neglected diseases. 


350 million people in 98 countries are at risk of contracting leishmaniasis, a disease caused by Leishmania, transmitted by sandflies. Although there is some progress in drug development, especially for visceral leishmaniasis (also known as kala-azar), current drugs remain expensive, toxic, difficult to administer, or ill-suited for use in remote areas. There is a lack of adequate treatment in Africa and Latin America. While there are some treatments recommended by WHO, sustainable access to treatment is not widely available in endemic countries.


A young mother struggles to access treatment and support, and give a better life for her family since burdened with cutaneous leishmaniasis.


João Lucas was only 8 months old when he was diagnosed with visceral leishmaniasis. This video is a tribute to his early-on struggles and a celebration of his successful treatment.


Moacir struggles with diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis, a disease with horrific physical and psychological burdens, and the lack of available and accessible treatments for 25 years.


A young, working boy, almost loses his means and motivation when treating against visceral leishmaniasis, a fatal disease.