Open to All: Doctors Without Borders Comes to Allen


Imaal Ali

Students in Doctors Without Borders meeting designing cards for donations.

Roughly 12.5 million medical consultations and one million patients handled. That is what Doctors Without Borders (DWB) has achieved to date. Several students at AHS hope to bring such an impact, combining health services and humanitarianism, with the first DWB high school chapter in Texas.


“DWB started because I had talked and worked with people who work with the actual Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières, and with previous volunteer work helping out international communities,” junior president Rashid Ahmad said. “I was interested in this aspect as well as how they tied in medical crises.” 


DWB Allen officers cite an overall interest in science, the medical field and community involvement as a reason they joined the organization. Their efforts are performed locally, but their impact is intended to have a more widespread effect.


“For me, a larger interest is how poverty-stricken and war-torn a lot of countries which we are attempting to help are,” Ahmad said.


The Allen organization functions under the branch at the University of Texas at Austin Friends of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as local Doctors Without Borders chapters may only be established in institutions such as universities. 


“The UT Chapter was very willing to work with me and said that after a discussion with the board, they decided that it would be a great opportunity for both of us to move forward with our branch,” Ahmad said.  


The global organization provides critical medical care during crises to over 70 countries, according to the Doctors Without Borders website, With “teams of doctors, nurses, logisticians and other frontline workers,” emergency care and supplies are administered in places such as Syria and Turkey in response to the February earthquake. 


The AHS chapter similarly contributes to service, and currently, they are doing a donation drive to the Plano nonprofit “Helping Hands” which sends needed items such as toys and clothes to refugees.


“Although we have only had one meeting so far, our past meeting emphasized the humanitarian aspect of the MSF organization by providing aid to refugees from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, while also incorporating some general healthcare education,” said junior treasurer Rafay Azeem. “I imagine that we will continue this emphasis on tangible service combined with practical health-related education in future meetings.”


Since the AHS chapter of DWB began this year, it has been working to connect with the community through projects. Last month the organization collaborated with American Gateways, a nonprofit that aims to deliver low-cost legal services for immigrants in Texas, by holding a Krispy Kreme fundraiser the UT chapter initially started. Ahmad said the chapter looks into volunteer opportunities at nearby hospitals for students to further “build connections.”


Doctors Without Borders provides a more hands-on opportunity for the students in AHS wanting to gain more experience and knowledge about the healthcare field,” junior social media manager Esther Zhou said. “Most of our club members plan to study for a healthcare career in the future.”


Those interested in the intersection of medicine and humanitarianism, which for Rafay are the “two of the fundamental aspects of a healthcare career,”  are given a chance to learn about the relationship. DWB at Allen aims for students to take their education further by interacting with health-related issues firsthand. 


“We hope to give students a chance to experience or find a passion for the health field, or even just contribute to the community in a meaningful way,” Rafay said.