Tonight, at 9.30 on TG4, An Bhearna Bhaoil, a one-hour documentary that follows three modern day missionaries and their work with Médicins Sans Frontiéres – Doctors without Borders.
From their hometowns to the frontlines, this film explores the work these Irish medics do and discovers who, and what, inspires them to leave their homes and families in order to provide medical assistance to those who need it most.
Filmed in multiple locations, from Syrian refugee camps and the bombed ruins of Northen Iraq, to the beaches of Ireland, An Bhearna Bhaoil is a story about the humans behind the humanitarians, the sights they see and the toll it takes on them and the reason they keep going back to the frontlines.
In Sligo, we meet trainee GP Conor Kenny as he spends his final days in his beloved hometown before flying to Northern Iraq for his next mission. For him coming home means spending time with his family, and watching a Sligo Rovers match from the stands in the Showgrounds.
Far from the beach at Strandhill, we later find ourselves with Conor on the road from Kirkuk to Hawija as he travels the 90 minute commute to work in the Ministry of Health Hospital. He explains how, despite the bumps and potholes, the vehicle never moves to the side of the road for fear of undetonated incendiary devices. The fear and anxiety within the population itself is perhaps the most damaging reminder of the recent turmoil.
With almost two million people still displaced and many health facilities damaged or destroyed, medical needs remain extremely high in Iraq. Hawija until recently had a population of half a million people but up to half of that number left when the area was under ISIS control. Although the population is gradually increasing as people return, the sight through the windows of the moving vehicle tells us all we need to know about the impact war has had on the region. Buildings lie in ruins, and many of Conor's patients are no longer victims of bullets or bombs, but victims of collapsed structures.
In Cork, Aoife Ní Mhurchú is waiting for news on where her next mission will take her. So far in 2019 she has already been to Afghanistan and in 2018 spent over 9 months onboard the Aquarius Migrant Rescue Ship on the Mediterranean. Her personal archive from this mission leaves us in no doubt as to the plight of those fleeing Libya and seeking passage to Europe.
The Cork nurse explains in detail the difficulties connected with the work and the sacrifice of leaving home. For her, family are everything. When Aoife receives news of her upcoming mission, her uncle Fionnbarra who spent 40 years working in Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania as a missionary priest, is her first port of call.
Libya is one of the most restricted countries in the world. In preparation for this mission, Aoife views rarely seen footage sent from detainees within Libyan detention camps. The videos are harrowing. Embroiled in Civil war since 2011, it is estimated that 500,000 migrants are trapped in Libya. It is in fact impossible to know the exact number. In the first two weeks of 2020 almost 1,000 refugees and migrants have been retuned to war-torn Libya from the Mediterranean Sea. The EU is spending close to €100 million on the Libyan coastguard to prevent refugees and migrants making the crossing to Europe. This will not be Aoife's first time working in Libya, she is going where the cameras can not.
Kerry based doctor, Eve Bruce, is beginning her second term as Coordinator of Médicin San Frontiéres’ Reconstructive Hospital in Amman Jordan. With a high level of surgical expertise this hospital provides a base for MSF to treat patients with complicated injuries - primarily from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine - who could not be treated in their own countries. The programme was initiated in 2006 after victims of war in Iraq were unable to access the necessary medical attention needed, and has continued due to the ongoing conflicts in the region and the lack of appropriate healthcare facilities in war-torn countries.
Despite being a plastic surgeon, this is Eve’s first time in her medical career not being in the operating theatre. From Amman to Inch, we follow Eve and witness her work with her patients and discover how at 65, this mother and grandmother feels that her work is not yet done.
Filmed over a period of 6 months on location in Cork, Sligo, Kerry, Iraq and Jordan, An Bhearna Bhaoil tell the tales of our most valuable exports, the Irish humans helping humans at times and in places where humanity is needed most.
Craolfar An Bhearna Baoil anocht, Dé Céadaoin ar TG4 ag 9.30