Dr. Chip Hunter
Field Coordinator and Mental Health Activities Manager
Born and raised in North Carolina, and did my undergraduate degree there in Art / Ceramics. In the middle of that, between my Sophomore & Junior years, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso. This was both my first time in Africa and the first time that I ever saw real developing world poverty. I fully expected to go back to Africa soon, but somehow 30 years passed before I would return to work there, that time with MSF. Following undergraduate school, I taught mountaineering and whitewater kayaking, and worked with juvenile delinquents in wilderness therapy programs. Although I eventually got tired of sleeping on the ground and got indoor jobs, it was that experience that ultimately led me to become a psychologist. The next "phase" was mostly spent working as a potter, until a serious back injury forced me to reconsider. After several false starts, I decided that I had really missed the counseling I had done with adolescents. Preferring to do it indoors, however, I needing further credentialing. I went to the University of Wisconsin for a master's in counseling, realized that I really enjoyed college again at the age of 36, and so I continued on to a PhD. I then found myself a professor at several universities for the next 20 years, training other clinicians, mostly at the University of New Mexico. My areas of interest and research centered around multicultural psychology, probably dating back to Peace Corps days, and also as a result of teaching in one of the most diverse state universities in the country. In 2009, I discovered that MSF was beginning to incorporate mental health care into more and more projects, and this felt like a really good fit for me. Although I would keep teaching for another 6 years, I applied and was accepted to work with MSF, learned French, and started going overseas during summers and other breaks and leaves of absence. This has included several refugee camps, the Ebola, and other contexts with displaced people in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia/Libya, Liberia and now Tanzania. In 2014, my wife did her first MSF mission in South Sudan, and after lots of talk, we decided that I could retire from teaching, and that we would both go to work for MSF full-time. Most recently, we worked in Tanzania with Burundian and Congolese refugees, in one of the projects featured in the exhibition, where I first started the mental health projects in both Nyarugusu and Nduta refugee camps, then took over as the Project Coordinator in Nyarugusu. We finished there earlier in the summer, and are taking a break from the field to join the tour, where I am one of the guides, sharing the experiences of both the refugees and MSF in our work.