Having served as a caregiver and former head of the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) when it received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, Obrinski uses his decades of personal experiences to open the eyes of the public to humanitarian efforts throughout the world. This enthralling memoir, comprised of personal thoughts and testimonies, diary entries, and correspondences with friends of various humanitarian organizations, recounts Obrinski’s time spent as a doctor on the front lines in Peru, Somalia, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Russia, and Zaire. Through reflections—personal and political—he hopes to inject humanitarian activity into our daily lives. In the past, humanitarianism has been viewed as apolitical, but Obrinski, with his stories and his investigation into both his and his organization’s motives forces it out of this sphere and into a political realm, admitting imperfection is essential to compassion. Embodied in An Imperfect Offering, are warnings, hopes, and lessons on how to convert transform concerns into powerful, global humanitarian efforts, shaping the world in which we live.
James Orbinski is past international president of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, and accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for MSF in 1999. Prior to joining MSF, he was a medical researcher in Rwanda in the late 1980s, and a family doctor in small town Canada. With MSF, he worked in Peru, in Somalia during its famine and civil war, in Afghanistan during its civil war, in Rwanda through the genocide and in Zaire during the slaughter that followed. In 1999, he helped launch MSF’s Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, and he has spoken on behalf of MSF before the United Nations Security Council, the leaders of the World Health Organization, the United Nations High Commission for Relief, the World Bank, and at the White House and before government ministers and heads of state the world over. When his term as president of MSF ended in 2001, he worked as chair of MSF’s Neglected Diseases Working Group. In 2004, he left MSF to found Dignitas International, an organization committed to community-based care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world. He lives in Canada.