Témoignage means, literally, "testimony."
In the context of the pitiful human suffering that takes place everywhere on our planet every day, témoignage has a slightly different flavor of meaning; it means, in that context, to bear witness to the suffering and to describe what we have seen.
It can be the suffering of huge groups of people, as in the ongoing atrocities in Darfur, or it can be the suffering of an individual, a loved one struggling with illness and pain, to which we bear witness.
So often in life, when a loved one is hurting, we're unable to do anything that really helps in any material way; we can just bear witness.
I was discussing this with a friend the other night, and we agreed, there's value in the act of bearing witness and there's comfort, sometimes, in just being there.
Is it churlish and whiny of me to complain that I wish I had not had quite so many recent goddamned opportunities for témoignage in my life?