Waiting room

The German Red Cross with the help of other Red Cross/Red Crescent societies established so called “Waiting rooms” at the border in the South of Germany, to have central points for refugees to arrive. Here everyone got a medical check up if needed and could register. After a short rest people were brought to refugee shelters all over Germany.



“Risk management and work, health and safety”Working with the Australian Red Cross in Mongolia

Read more about the projects here: http://www.redcross.org.au/mongolia.aspx


AVID volunteer Diane in Mongolia

Read the great article about Diane, an inspiring AVID volunteer working in paliative care in the hospital in Ulaanbatar,  written by Zayne D`Crus.

A green corner in a white ward

by: Zayne D`Crus


Armed with houseplants, donated couches and a handy iPhone app, Diane Anthony and her colleagues are creating a supportive environment for carers of people with terminal cancer.

There`s a room full of tropical plants in the Palliative Care Ward of Mongolia`s National Cancer Centre. Sustained by the hospital`s central heating system, protected from the freezing winds outside, they provide a splash of intense colour amidst the sterile white, creating a space for conversation and laughter in a place more accustomed to intense fear and grief.

It`s one of many small changes at the Cancer Centre since Diane Anthony arrived. As part of Australian Volunteers for International Development program, her role is to help the centre strengthen its palliative care services.

Palliative care is a new concept in Mongolia, where even oncology services are hard to come by. The Cancer Centre is the only place in the country where radiotherapy and chemotherapy are offered, meaning that cancer patients must be referred from district hospitals. Over 70% of those who reach the centre are in the late stages of their disease.

As Unit Manager Dr Munguntsetseg explains, “The purpose of our unit is to help the patients and their families psychologically as well as giving families advice on how to treat the patients.” With so many patients at a terminal stage, the bulk of their care falls to family members.

An experienced nurse, Diane could see the pain of family members about to lose their loved ones, as well as their selfless acts of care. “Many of the families travel to Ulaanbaatar from the countryside,”she says. “They stay in the rooms for 24 hours a day , just sitting in a chair overnight or sharing a bed with the patient.”

Encouraged by Dr Munguntsetseg, Diane identified a number of ways to improve conditions for carers. She converted a small section of the Palliative Care Ward into a lounge area where patients and their families can sit together, complete with couches donated by friends and tropical plants purchased with her volunteer allowance. She then started an informal carers` support group and created a handbook that offers insight into issues faced by patients and carers.

“Since Diane came, carers can come to a classroom, have handouts to read and can practise techniques on a model,” says Munguntsetseg.

Whether for staff or carers, training is doubly difficult when it is delivered in another language. Diane gets by through daily conversational practice, interpreting assistance from the centre’s Foreign Relations Officer, and a handy iPhone translation app. The walls of her office are covered with technical terms and their Mongolian equivalents`“ ranging from anxiety to bowel movement. Still, it`s frustrating when you see somebody upset in the corridor “ there`s only so much you can do with body language and I don`t have the words to be able to comfort them,” she sighs.

Other hospital departments are learning from the Palliative Care Units example. “The administration recognises Diane`s input and they have the idea to videotape her lectures for trainers of doctors and nurses in rural areas,” Dr Munguntsetseg says.

The other nurses in the unit see Diane as a role model. “Instead of just handing out papers for carers to read, Diane chose herself to demonstrate things like mouth care or moving the patient from one bed to another,” says Head Nurse Oyungerel. “We have a saying in Mongolia:  looking once is better than hearing a thousand times.”

Diane is working on a mentoring program between a hospital in Southern Adelaide and the National Cancer Centre. This initiative could greatly support the centre`s goal of becoming a teaching hospital for oncology services across Mongolia.

Most significantly, her work has changed the way nurses see their roles. “She looked from a different angle,” says Dr Munguntsetseg. “We were paying a lot of attention to the patients but she paid attention to the carers and helped us see that they also get tired and need some space and time.”



Working with the Mongolian Red Cross Society

…I had the chance to meet passionated volunteers and cover their work about First Aid, WASH and sexual education.


Women`s shelter in Mongolia (2012)

Domestic violence is a huge problem for women in Mongolia. The National Center Against Violence (NCAV) estimated that, in 2010, one in three women was a victim of domestic violence and one in ten was a victim of battering.  While restraining orders are available to women suffering from abuse, they are often poorly enforced. NCAV runs five shelters for victims of domestic abuse, currently the only shelters available. Rural populations face the worst domestic violence rates due to a lack of funding for services and a belief that domestic violence is a private matter.
Working with NCAV on the campaign “Our Voice”,we were aiming to break the silence on domestic violence in Mongolia. We showed the exhibition at 16 of the most crowded places in the country, contributed leaflets with further information and used Facebook to reach the most people possible. The campaign was a great success. I was invited to present it at the Gender Conference 2014 of the Mongolian Government, in the end the government took on the topic and established legislation against domestic violence in Mongolia.


Beelitz sanatorium

Outside Berlin, near a small village called Beelitz, there is an abandoned place called “Beelitz Heilstätten”. Originally build in 1902 by the Berlin workers’ health insurance corporation as a sanatorium to treat tuberculosis, it was used as a military hospital afterwards, occupied by the troops of the Red Army, and still running as a hospital until 1994. 60 buildings belonged to the complex, including its own infrastructure like a bakery and a power station. Some of the buildings are still remaining and have been overtaken by  nature, even though it is changing more and more into a well developed tourist attraction.