News - 08.04.2024

The experience of a volunteer

General surgery resident Dimitrios Giannakidis, who in recent months joined the team of Médecins du Monde, offering support and medical services to every person who needed help and addressed to our Polyclinics in Athens and Thessaloniki, shares his experience as a volunteer and a part of the MdM’s human chain of solidarity, which teaches him daily that when you offer and dedicate yourself to the struggle for a society that respects and protects all its members, you yourself are ultimately the beneficiary.


What is volunteering for each and every one of us? A waste of time? An effort to put a good face on society? Or is it something higher? A moral reward or perhaps a great “gift” that you can offer, not only to others, but ultimately to yourself?

July 2023 and I was tentatively starting my volunteer work at Doctors of the World, first at the Open Polyclinic of Athens and then at the Social Polyclinic of Thessaloniki. Many thoughts went through my mind and initially fear of the unknown. However, my need to give back overcame my initial fears and misgivings, while later on the feeling of moral satisfaction from the offer gave me and still gives me courage and strength to continue.

April 2024. Almost 8 months have passed, full of difficult stories, pain, crying, smiles of optimism and joy, but always an endless need for help and solidarity. People young and old, elderly, children without their parents, parents whose only joy is their sick children, people who have not been given anything and do not even have the basics. The basics like a hot plate of food, a roof, a bathroom to wash up in and a few things to live on – basics for most of us. Every day that passes, a struggle for survival, a Golgotha to climb.

People homeless, poor, immigrants and Greeks, all in the same boat with unknown destination in a stormy sea. Each and every one has a story to tell you, most with a smile and hope, waiting and hoping for a helping hand, thanking you so intensely and sincerely. That’s when you feel human.

Some patients wait for me outside the doctor’s office, patiently and without complaint if I am late, most of them kind and reserved. They know you’re there for them for nothing in return. A lifeline to an uncertain and unknown future.

And yet I “earned” it too, a sense of purpose, pride and identity, the need to “belong” to a group of giving and solidarity with a common purpose and vision for a better tomorrow. A society that respects and protects all its members. I try with my medical knowledge, my contacts and every human means to help, to feel human and to offer

MdM are fighting a huge struggle every day, materially and mentally, without reserves. A struggle in their Polyclinics that run on the donations, offering treatments on the street (literally), in shelters for the homeless and the weak, but also abroad in war zones at the risk of their own lives. People to people.

MdM are in need. They need Cardiologists, Ophthalmologists, Psychiatrists (Thessaloniki) and generally active Specialists of all specialties.

Be part of this human chain of solidarity, and feel HUMAN.

Dimitrios Giannakidis, MD, MSc, MSc, PhD(c)

PhD Candidate, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Resident Physician in General Surgery
Member of the Board & Coordinator of Communication & Outreach of the Young Doctors Association