29 Jun 17 04 Jan 18

'An incredible response': Vancouver gala brings together people inspired to make a difference with MSF

By Lucia Yglesias

“It is easy to get wrapped up in our own problems. Fundraising for MSF changed my perspective and made me appreciate what I have and the need to give back more.” 

This is how Ingrid Hakanson describes the experience of hosting the third annual Doctors Without Borders Gala in Vancouver, BC. The charity event last April raised $3,000 for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

MSF’s ability to respond to emergencies in war-ravaged areas and danger zones was party of the reason Hakanson wanted to support the organization.

“I was looking for who is making the biggest difference globally and doing stuff that nobody else is willing to do, and MSF is the most deserving organization,” she says.

Hakanson, a respiratory therapist at Vancouver General Hospital, has worked in Haiti, Nigeria and Sierra Leone as a medical relief volunteer. It was when she went to Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak in 2016 that Hakanson realized she had to “double up efforts to help patients and those who put their lives on the line.”

“MSF’s people never give up; they stay there for more than six months living in difficult conditions away from friends and families, and in the most dangerous situations,” says Hakanson.

Hakanson – who is also is a songwriter and DJ – put on the annual gala with the help of 25 volunteers, friends and dozens of companies. The gala team made the event possible by generously providing food, music, equipment and raffle prizes.

“I was just one of many who made this happen. We brought together so many people for one cause,” she says.

The annual gala had a fun, party-like atmosphere, where attendees dressed up and got to meet new people while supporting a humanitarian cause. According to Hakanson, the challenge of coordinating everything was worth it.

“I saw an incredible response. People feel strongly about this cause in particular. There are a lot of charities out there, but you say ‘MSF’ and people have a reaction to it. ‘What a worthy cause,’ they say. MSF are the ones standing up and speaking out about difficult topics,” Hakanson says.

Hakanson is already looking for new features and attractions to draw even more people to the 2018 gala. Hakanson says she tells every guest about the work MSF does and hopes the fundraiser can inspire others to take action.

“People are losing their lives in the field. Some people really need help. Somebody who wants to be hands-on and raise money, they can do parties, they can become regular donors, or they can volunteer in their home country. I certainly hope that [the gala] inspires others to do things like this as well,” she says.  

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