In 1978, somewhere in the China Sea, a boat was adrift. On board were 2,564 Vietnamese refugees that no country wanted to take in. Doctors, including Bernard Kouchner, intellectuals and journalists set out on a hospital ship, the Isle of Light, to treat but also to bear witness to the situation of the boat people.
On 1 February 1980, Médecins du Monde was born. The association set itself a threefold objective: to go where others don’t go, to bear witness to the intolerable and to work on a voluntary basis. Above all, according to the founding doctors, it is a question of “creating a structure ready to deal with emergency situations, in the shortest possible time, which is sometimes not possible for international institutions”.