An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action For The Twenty-First Century

An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action For The Twenty-First Century

  • Publish Date: 2009-09-29
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: James Orbinski
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From one of the world's greatest humanitarian activists comes a searing personal memoir that is also an urgent call to confront suffering in all its many forms.

Having seen things we hope never to see, confronted suffering, dispassion, and evil we hope never to encounter, James Orbinski still believes in "the good we can be if we so choose." Recounting stories from his own experience, embodied in which are warnings, hope, and lessons in how we can inject humanitarian activity into our lives, An Imperfect Offering is invaluable reading for anyone who feels he or she can make a difference.

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2008: Judging by his biography, James Orbinski is superhuman. As a med student in the late '80s, he spent a year researching pediatric AIDS in Rwanda, which opened his eyes to the human consequences of political failure. After cofounding the Canadian chapter of Doctors Without Borders, Orbinski embarked on relief missions to the world's most chaotic pockets, including war-torn Somalia and the refugee camps of Afghanistan. When reports of genocide filtered out of Rwanda, Orbinski led a small team that--with scant supplies--tended to the sick and wounded in Kigali. Within 14 weeks, 800,000 people were killed as the international community sat idly by, and Orbinski experienced a profound personal crisis. He emerged with a renewed commitment to his role as doctor, not only as a healer but as a voice for those who have been disastrously failed by governments. In An Imperfect Offering, he bears witness to surreal levels of suffering, and his actions seem impossibly heroic. But descriptions of his patients' courage and his own moral challenges make this story an exploration of what it means to be human, and what our responsibilities are to each other. Through his story, the suffering of millions is no longer unimaginable, and indifference is not an option. --Mari Malcolm

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