Docters without Holidays

Docters without Holidays

Client in the spotlight

"They call themselves anything but a typical travel agency client because they do not buy package holidays and all kinds of fun tourist extras. What’s more, they are particularly concerned about the price. However, they are indeed full of praise for the faultless, professional service from which they benefit at UNIGLOBE Triton Travel."

Doctors Without Holidays (AZV) comprises around 600 Belgian doctors and nurses that work in Africa on a voluntary basis during their private holiday time. They train their African colleagues at the operating table, in the hospital ward or in the lab. Not emergency aid, but a sustainable solution: the transfer of knowledge. In 2013, there were over 404 field volunteers, 43% of whom were specialist doctors. They provided 6,950 days of medical support, spread across 176 missions in five African countries and in association with 50 partner hospitals. With the motto “knowledge heals”, the 2014-2016 multiannual programme states that AZV is furthering its efforts on integral capacity-building in the partner hospitals so that they will be able to offer higher quality and patient-oriented medical care. In 2013, more than 25,000 people and businesses generously contributed to fundraising efforts and they almost beat the historic 2012 record. AZV raised 1.8 million euros, not in the least thanks to the interest they benefitted from in all types of media, printed, spoken and visual. Since 2007, AZV has been a client of UNIGLOBE Triton Travel in Mechelen with its intensive travel policy.

“Where Carine Nieuwling is on the other end of our hotline,” Pascale Catteau explains, responsible for the travel service. At first glance, AZV appears to be an easy client. The non-profit organisation only requires flight tickets to partner countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Last year, there were 470 flights,” Pascale reveals. “90% of which were planned far in advance and by that I mean six weeks in advance.

However, there are also last-minute cancellations due to a lack of safety or illness. In short, there is always something that needs to be changed (she laughs).” AZV principally flies economy class and its preferred partner is Brussels Airlines. The airline offers the NGO special conditions. “These are entered in the booking system so that UNIGLOBE can process them without any problems,” Pascale explains. It’s only when the destination is outside of the SN network that we use a different airline.

“And then our priority is price,” Pascale says, “even though the use of time is important too. You don’t let a medical team wait eight hours for a connection because the flight is 50 euros cheaper. We decide in a rational manner.” One of the people who travels on one of these tickets at least once a year is A & E doctor Nele Vangheluwe. She has worked for AZV for eleven years. In her everyday life, she works at the Sint Vincentius Hospital in Deinze, but heads off in the direction of Africa every year for around three weeks. “Because I firmly believe in our motto: knowledge heals! Nele focuses specifically on her speciality: casualty. To increase and build capacity there thanks to improving equipment and knowledge. “You elevate as many people as possible to a higher level and hope that it stays that way,” the cheerful Nele tells us, making no secret of the fact that she looks forward to the trip every year. “Because you can achieve a great deal in a short space of time, as well as being able to forge friendships over the years. I am passionate about my job and have always been interested in African healthcare. Now, I can actually make a contribution ‘in the field’. However, Africans also teach me things. Their courage and simple happiness in particular always strike me on the margins. How they achieve more there with fewer resources and on a very low wage. This makes their gratitude all the greater. Each time I leave, I see it in their eyes: ‘please don’t abandon us, come back next year.’ It’s as though they feel lifted up by us, that’s why a mission is always so intense. Yet I enjoy going, more every year actually, because I feel that I provide added value.” AZV is unique, there is no organisation like it that does exactly the same thing in Belgium. uses cookies - read more Close this message Close this message