Dr. James Orbinski

Dr. Orbinski

I am currently reading James Orbinski’s “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century” and am having trouble putting it down. Orbinski is one of the founders of the Canadian branch of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF); in 1994 he served as Chef de Mission for MSF in Kigali, Rwanda during the horrific civil war and genocide.   As president of MSF, the doctor and humanitarian accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on their behalf in 1999; his remarkable Nobel Lecture is available here.

One can do a search at iTunes for “James Orbinski” and listen to Dr. Orbinski “In Conversation with Alan Gregg” about “An Imperfect Offering”  — there is a choice of audio or video.

CBC’s “Sunday” interviewed Dr. Orbinski about his new book; watch it here. (sorry, CBC has removed this wonderful interview, and the “Sunday” site)

This link will take you to a radio interview with James Orbinski on CBC’s “Sounds Like Canada”. (apologies: sadly , it seems that CBC has removed the “Sounds Like Canada” web page and its interviews, as well as the podcasts available at iTunes).

CBC’s documentary, “Evil Revisited”, was awarded the 2005 Canadian Radio Television News Directors Association Award. Dr. Orbinski returns to Rwanda with CBC journalist Sasa Petricic in this incredibly moving piece.  (note:  CBC has also removed this excellent documentary about one of Canada’s most remarkable citizens; thank you to the kind commenter — Mr. Petricic? —  who provided the Vimeo link for “Evil Revisited”!)

George Stroumboulopoulos interviewed Dr. Orbinski on CBC’s “The Hour”; watch it here. (believe it or not, CBC has removed this as well!)

Dr Orbinski is one of the founders of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, a not-for-profit pharmaceutical research and development entity focused on the diseases of the South. He recently co-founded Dignitas, an organization focused on community based treatment, care and prevention of HIV in the developing world.


“An Imperfect Offering”, and this man speak to me on a very deep level. Each of us is responsible for each other, and each of us needs to act. As Vikram Seth so eloquently puts it in his book, “Two Lives: a Memoir”:

“May we see that we could have been born as each other.”

Update: CTV’s “W5” aired “To Hell and Back: helping the world’s most desperate/Charity’s Not Enough”, on Saturday, April 3, 2010.  This interview with Dr. Orbinski, as well as a written article is available at the W5 web site.  Dr. Orbinski talks about his experiences, and drives home the idea that charity must only be a starting point — that it is not a substitute for public policy in making necessary change in our world.

Update: October 2010, CTV’s Canada AM has a feature clip/interview with Dr. Orbinski in its “Transformational Canadians” series, produced in conjunction with the Globe and Mail and La Presse.


Give a Day – Jane Philpott

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On her web site “Give a Day”, Canadian physician Jane Philpott answers a common question:

Q: Isn’t the situation of AIDS in Africa rather hopeless? What difference can we really hope to make?

Dr. Philpott’s Answer: There is a West African proverb which says: “The river may be wide, but it can be crossed.” There have been many situations in history when one might be tempted to despair that things would ever change. But in recent years we have witnessed the end of apartheid government in South Africa; the collapse of the Berlin wall; and peace accords in other long-standing conflicts. Yes, the crisis of AIDS in Africa is an exceptional one. Thus the response all over the world must also be exceptional. You can be a part of this worldwide response. Make a difference in your world. Give a day!

Please visit this dedicated woman’s site to learn more about her creative and progressive ideas. Listen to an interview of Dr. Philpott by Shelagh Rogers on CBC’s Sounds Like Canada.