Focus: Me and my charity - Judith Cook

Judith Cook is a doctor and has been involved with Medecins du Monde UK (MdM) since 2002. She is also a member of the medical charity Medact.

How did you get involved with Medecins du Monde? I was looking for volunteering experience after completing a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene in London. Some doctor friends recommended contacting MdM because one of them had worked with the charity in South America.

I was interviewed by Karen McColl, director of Medecins du Monde UK, who asked if I would be willing to go to Afghanistan - this was before the fall of the Taliban. I agreed, and a post came up in February 2002, about three months after the regime's fall.

Did you volunteer for it in other countries? Yes. I went to Liberia in October 2003. MdM was supporting basic healthcare in three health centres and a health post. The work there was more tiring because we were travelling long distances and needed to return to MdM's main base in Monrovia at weekends, to pack medicines and to work on the computer.

What is your most poignant memory? A young woman living in a village in Bong County - where we supported a clinic - had a huge breast abscess needing surgical treatment. MdM transported her to Monrovia to a hospital supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres. No hospitals were functioning in Bong County because they had been looted and their staff had fled the conflict.

The woman was treated and began to recover, before MdM transported her back to her village and her baby, who had been looked after by her sister.

She was then able to resume breast feeding - I remember her smile when she came home to her baby.

Do you donate to MdM or support it in other ways? I have made donations, including equipment, and have given advice on the development of its Project: London programme in east London.

Do you support any other charities? I have made donations to Greenpeace, the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and Friends of the Earth. I am also a member of Medact, the health professionals' charity. I have done voluntary work there for many years.

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