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A Very Special Visitor from France

Dr Xavier Emmanuelli, the head of 'Samusocial International', and co-founder of Médecins sans frontières (MSF), came to Belgorod State University to deliver a lecture on his work, and share the benefit of nearly 60 years of experience of working with people in need of medical and social care with us

The good Doctor served in the Chirac Presidency under Premier Alain Juppé, and has been instrumental in establishing many care organisations. He has received many honours as a result, chief among them being made a Commandeur of the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, the highest award for French citizens. He also chairs charities here in Russia. His work among the homeless and marginalised began in earnest in 1993, when he founded the first 'SAMU Social' in Paris. This was set up to provide medical care and nourishment for the homeless in Paris. SAMU is the French acronym for their Emergency Services, and it was Dr Emmanuelli's contention that care for people with such complex social and mental difficulties should not begin and end in hospitals. It is for this reason that he sought, and still seeks to expand the concept across the world with his Samusocial International organisation.

His theme for this talk was children in peril. He put forward the idea that traumatised children, who are faced with extreme poverty, and may be enlisted as child soldiers, or lose their parents to conflict or economic stress, become traumatised adults. While little can be done to ameliorate to general situation, Dr Emmanuelli hopes that addressing the psychological problems following a traumatic event may go some way to alleviating the strain on the individual. In the course of his lecture, he also addressed situations closer to home, touching on issues that effect children in developed countries, such as domestic violence, neglectful parenting, and chronic poverty. He also found time to talk about MSF, a truly amazing organisation.

 Translated by I P Turner, Centre for Foreign Language and Academic Writing

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