MARDi is an international collective of medical professionals and support staff volunteering to deliver healthcare to refugees living in unofficial camps and on the street in Paris, France. The MARDi clinic provides frontline medical care directly in the camps and works with other NGOs and French healthcare services to meet the vast and varied healthcare needs of this refugee population. They also coordinate with the non-medical aid groups in Paris to provide all-encompassing support for people living in these camps. For example, in the regular and ineffective government-led evacuations.
The work has two main aims; firstly to bridge the healthcare gap between what refugees get and what they deserve, and secondly, to show refugees that Europe is not just a place of racism and hostility, that it has a strong, compassionate side that welcomes refugees and will fight for them. Drinking Afghan green tea around a campfire or Ethiopian coffee with a family in a makeshift hut is as important as dressing wounds and treating headaches.
MARDi also collects and shares evidence of the human rights abuses occurring daily in the camps and presents this in as many circles as possible, including legal action taken as part of the network of refugee support orgs in Paris.
Where is it?
The MARDi clinic runs in the North of Paris; in the camps, on the street, at day centres with other projects, e.g. food distributions - wherever the refugee population can be reached.
What will I be doing?
A typical MARDi day:
Volunteers arrive at the warehouse at 9am. There is a team briefing over coffee and medical supplies are prepared for the day ahead. The camps are then reached on foot, by bus or tram.
Medical volunteers perform paramedic-style assessments and treat where possible, or refer to other services where appropriate. Non-medical volunteers run the clinic and support the medics, for example, organising the line, collecting essential healthcare data and carrying out clinic admin (phone calls, directions, letter writing, etc) +/- translating.
After lunch in a local cafe, work continues in the camps until approximately 5pm after which the team returns to the warehouse for debriefing and any remaining warehouse work. More than one camp may be visited in a day and most of the day is spent outside, regardless of weather conditions – thermals are advised in winter.
Some days are spent in the warehouse managing stock, these are non-clinical days therefore generally more relaxed (kitchen and bathroom facilities available).
What impact would I have?
You will be helping provide essential medical support to this incredibly vulnerable group of people, documenting and sharing the human rights abuses happening to them on European soil and showing refugees that they are cared for and that people in Europe do value them. MARDi’s teams have seen real changes in the physical and mental well-being of refugees using our service over the past few years.
Every Project Play volunteer plays a vital role in shaping their service and everyone’s ideas and insights are valued, so be prepared to become an integral part of the Project Play family! Working with us is a great opportunity to challenge yourself, develop skills including leadership and teamwork and gain experience working with vulnerable children.
Who will I be working with?
The MARDi clinic team consists of:
Team Leader: permanent medical volunteer experienced in refugee healthcare, leads the clinic team and responsible for volunteer welfare during their placement
Other medical volunteers: backgrounds will vary from day to day – nurses, paramedics, doctors, midwives, physiotherapists, mental health professionals, etc.
Translators: help with translation for medical volunteers but also general clinic assistance
Clinic coordinators: non-medical volunteers who run the clinic to allow the medical volunteers to focus on their patients.
You will also work with other organisations such food distribution teams.
As a small NGO we rely on volunteers funding their own travel and accommodation. Volunteers are strongly advised to stay in Saint Denis, near the MARDi warehouse (Rue du Landy, 93200) where you will start and end your day. There are many Airbnbs in the area but Saint Denis does have good metro links if you wish to stay elsewhere. MARDi days, especially in the winter, can be long and tiring and previous volunteers who have stayed in central Paris have struggled with the journey either end of the day.
The camps move every few months due to evacuations so sometimes the team needs to take public transport to reach new sites. This can cost several euros a day depending on the location.
- Children's activities
- Early childhood support
- Early Childhood Teacher
- Social Worker
- Youth Worker
- Play Therapist