What is MARDi?
MARDi is a grassroots NGO set up by volunteer medical professionals from the UK. We are registered in France (SIREN no. 892120353) and are under the umbrella of Donate 4 Refugees in the UK for fundraising and collective actions (charity no. 1168435). We are an international collective of medical professionals and support staff serving the population of refugees and displaced people living in the Paris Refugee Camps, France. MARDi provides frontline medical care in the camps, referring onto other services for more complicated healthcare issues and providing a chaperone and advocacy service for hospital appointments. We also speak up for refugees on a global scale with political and social actions, often as part of the network of NGOs and grassroots associations supporting refugees in Paris.
Where do you operate?
We operate in the northern suburbs of Paris, in Porte d'Aubervilliers and Porte de la Chapelle and Saint Denis.
What sort of volunteers do you need?
Nurses (adult, paediatric and mental health), paramedics, doctors, midwives, physiotherapists and dentists. Volunteers must be fully licensed in their home country. We accept final year students (with supervision) and can accommodate more junior students in non-clinical support roles, which are equally important to the running of the clinic. All qualified medical volunteers must be confident and competent to triage and treat a variety of conditions and wounds (see below) and know when to refer on to other services independently, there is no option for clinical escalation within the team.
Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Farsi, Kurdish, Somali, Tigrinya, Amharic, Oroma, German, Italian and French speakers are especially helpful.
Role includes supporting the medics in clinic (for example, organising a crowd, dealing with cultural barriers and tensions, assisting with referrals), helping with stock intake and other daily jobs. Key skills: flexibility, good initiative, keen to learn new skills, confidence.
All volunteers also need to be physically fit enough to cope with a day of walking to and between the camps while carrying the heavy clinic bags.
What is a typical day like for MARDi volunteers?
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, carrying out clinic admin (phone calls, letter writing, etc), helping with any non-medical issues (e.g. directing to day centres) +/- 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).
Is there a minimum time commitment for volunteers?
We suggest a minimum commitment of 3 days to get the most out of your placement but really the team works best the longer they work together.
Can MARDi fund my travel and accommodation?
No. As a small NGO we rely on volunteers funding their own travel and accommodation. Volunteers are encouraged to bring medical supplies with them and to fundraise to cover the cost of this (although we understand this isn’t always possible). A current needs list is sent to volunteers before joining the team and we cannot accept supplies not on this list unless checked with the MARDi Leadership Team first, this takes up valuable time and warehouse space.
Does MARDi provide medical indemnity insurance?
No. Medical volunteers need to organise their own medical indemnity insurance, enquiring with their usual provider in the first instance.
Where can I stay in Paris?
We strongly advise volunteers 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.
What do I need to bring with me when I visit the camps?
Volunteers need to bring work ID and scrub tops (medical volunteers only), T+ metro/bus tickets (bought at any metro station) or Navigo pass, walking boots ideally as the camps get vey muddy, clothing suitable for the weather conditions and culturally appropriate (full-length trousers, no low necklines or bare abdomens, no inappropriate slogans or imagery).
Most of the day is spent outside so bring thermals, waterproofs, sun cream as appropriate, and a water bottle and snacks make for a more comfortable working day. Leave all but essential items at home, keep valuables in zipped pockets and consider that anything brought along will need to be carried for the whole day. If necessary, volunteers may bring a small bag for the above items and other essentials, e.g. personal medications, but backpacks or large bags are not advised as the team are required to carry the large clinic bags and there is nowhere to store personal items in the camps.