Fieldset
Central African Republic: Arrival and first impressions

Antoine arrives in the Central African Republic to begin his first assignment with MSF/Doctors Without Borders… 

View of the river

After days of planning what to pack and what not to pack so that everything would fit in one 20kg suitcase, I take a pleasant Air France flight from Berlin to Paris and then from Paris to Bangui. I arrived in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic on Tuesday the 7th of August. 

Having been here a few days I can say that the landing in Bangui and the first impression in the airport give an accurate first idea of the country: the landing strips is guarded by UN soldiers and people live at the airport on each side of the landing strip.  

After getting out of the plane and through visa control, I manage to find the MSF driver who came to pick up me and Wolfgang, an anaesthetist who is also going to work in Bossangoa, but only for three months. 

What struck me going out of the airport and driving to one of the MSF housea is the number of NGOs and governmental organisations acting in the country.  More than half of the cars that we came across in Bangui are from an organisation: UN, UNICEF, the European Union, MSF, ACF...  

All together MSF has around 12 projects here, providing free health care  

After a 20-minute drive we arrived in Versailles, one of the MSF bases in Bangui. We meet some of the international staff based in the project's coordination office in Bangui and get our first briefing – it’s from Windsor and Elisa; respectively the HR coordinator who welcomes us, and the technical logistician who briefs us about safety in Bangui. 

We also get a bit more detail about what MSF does in the Central African Republic. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health MSF is heavily supporting the Central African health system.  

All together MSF has around 12 projects providing free of charge health care to people with issues accessing health facilities.  

After the briefings, a lot of information and a beer, we move to Chocolat, one of the other MSF houses where we will be sleeping in Bangui. 

The MSF base in Bangui

The MSF base in Bangui
The MSF base in Bangui

After a good first night in Chocolat we go at 7:00 to Buffalo, another MSF base in Bangui. There we do some paper work and get further briefings with the finance, logistics, medical and IT teams. 

That evening, I meet Caroline, a really nice girl from Quebec with a lot of MSF experience, who was the supply manager in Bossangoa and who I'm replacing. We go to eat at Carre Gourmand, one of the restaurants from Bangui where we are allowed to go to because it's safe enough. 

The next day, Caroline briefs me about all the ongoing things to be taken care of in Bossangoa. I get to know all about the stock reports; ordering systems, cold chains; food orders for international staff... (I will explain everything in other blogposts in the upcoming weeks). 

In the evening, the newcomers and a couple of people leaving the country enjoy a nice sunset on the Oubangui River enjoying a wonderful view on the neighbouring country: Congo. 

Flight to Bossangoa

Flight to Bossangoa
Flight to Bossangoa

The next morning, we drive to the airport and take one of the two planes that MSF has in the Central African Republic, which are used for all the projects. We finally fly to Bossangoa! 

First ride in Bossangoa

First ride in Bossangoa
First ride in Bossangoa