Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is one of the world’s most well-known and far-reaching charities.
All around the world, MSF personnel provide primary care and long-term support in the face of war, disaster, and deprivation. From September the 8th to the 11th they will be offering an interactive learning experience in Bannerman Park. The green lawns of this historic park will host a model refugee camp for people to tour, free of charge. The camp will include all of the necessities of survival that exist in an actual refugee camp including:
Trained MSF staff – amongst them residents of St. John’s who’ve worked with MSF overseas - will guide onlookers through a 40-60 minute tour that explains the crucial elements of survival in a refugee camp. The tour is an attempt to give the public some insight on what life in a refugee camp really entails. Visitors are asked to imagine that they have arrived after a long and arduous journey through their war-torn country. They must then try and figure out things - like where to get water and food - with the help of the MSF staff. This innovative use of a physical meeting place and live action role-play encourages the growth of learning networks. The tour offers an opportunity for connections and a community of understanding to flourish among the people involved.
This is not the first time that Bannerman Park has been used to house internally displaced persons. After the great fire of 1892 in downtown St. John’s, Bannerman Park served as a tent town to those citizens displaced by the destruction.
The MSF website has an interactive, virtual refugee camp that explains much of the background that leads to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) seeking asylum. The website also contains an engaging online role playing game wherein the gamer controls an avatar living in a refugee camp. There is an interactive map that allows visitors to explore and learn about the different areas of camp as well as a Flickr photostream with pictures of actual refugee camps and model camps from previous years. In so doing, MSF combines the useful and creative aspects of online learning with the direct and arresting nature of a face-to-face experience.
For more information visit the Doctors without Borders “Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City” website: www.refugeecamp.ca