Laura Archer-What An Angel Heart Looks Like

Laura Archer viewed her life in Africa as an eye opening experience when interviewed last August by the Montreal Gazette. She may be free tonight after being a hostage for two days in Darfur where the nurse works with Doctors Without Borders.
Laura Archer, 31, and two other foreign workers were taken by gunpoint on Wednesday at a North Darfur medical clinic.

In an interview last summer with Enterprise magazine she revealed that a horrible car crash on Highway I-40 from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2002 was her wake-up call. She decided that she wanted her life to mean something.

She decided in 2004 that she wanted to learn about the world outside North America. She sold all of her things and bought a backpack boarding a plane. She was in Thailand when the tsunami struck. Seeing the little that was being done she flew to India and set up a make shift clinic on a beach near a village that has been hard hit by the tsunami. She lived there for three weeks.

She had found her calling.

The Toronto Star reports:

“Through this experience,” she wrote in the alumni magazine article, “the difference between being a tourist and a humanitarian became apparent to me – and I knew which I wanted to be.”

In 2005 Archer returned to Canada to apply to Doctors Without Borders and has never looked back.

Archer has worked in two other African locations in the Central African Republic and in Chad. Both nations take in thousands of refugees from the Darfur region. This is her fourth African mission in three years.

The National Post quotes the young nurse:

“People have asked me if my experiences in Africa have made me more cynical or perhaps jaded,” she said. “I don’t think so. I guess I’ve lost my rose-coloured glasses and now things — both positive and negative – are a bit more clear.”

When she’s at home Archer paints. Last August she was promoting an exhibit of her worked titled Facing Africa. She had 26 portraits of displaced people that she had painted while on the continent. She uses her art to tell the stories of those she encounters; child soldiers stung out on cocaine, pregnant women picking berries to survive.

Archer’s father in Charlottetown said he was still in shock that his daughter was kidnapped. Her boyfriend Carlos Beranquez was also stunned by the news that his girlfriend who has been in Darfur since October 2008 was taken.

Saraf Omra where the Doctors Without Borders clinic is located is one of the most dangerous areas of Darfur.

“She is well versed in the region,” said McHarg, who has herself worked as a nurse in Sudan. “She was working with Sudanese staff to provide basic health care . . . The needs are just amazing and when you’re there, doing the work, it’s so important. The people you meet are so lovely and knowing that such good people are facing such tragedy . . . I think our teams are really dedicated.”

The charity has faced other kidnappings in the past. They have all ended with success for the staff of the group.

Archer is due back to Canada in April.

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs has been seeking confirmation that Archer and the others are free.

CBC reports:

“Canadian officials are in close contact with Médecins Sans Frontières, the UN, and Sudanese officials,” spokesman Daniel Barbarie said in an email, according to the Canadian Press. “We stand ready to provide consular assistance and support.”

The workers have reportedly been rescued yet the charity has yet to speak to them.

CBC also quotes with a spokesperson with Doctors Without Borders:

“We have not yet seen our colleagues, nor have we had the chance to speak with them since we heard that they were being released,” said spokeswoman Naomi Sutorius-Lavoie.


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