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I was initially easily fooled by the beautiful scenery, perfect climate and wonderful people. But the reality is this: a 14 year old girl was raped outside our village on my first day, 3 children died within the first hour of ward rounds on my first day, women walk with their dying children on their backs for sometimes over a day to get to our hospital, and everyday locals risk death on the roads due to armed robbery, sometimes just so the assailants can steal less than a dollar. This is life in the Kivu provinces.

The fact that EVERY Congolese person I encounter on the road easily breaks into a smile and a ‘Jambo Sana’ is a testament to their resilience.

But on a positive note, let me tell you what Médecins Sans Frontières is doing here. We are supporting Hopital General de Reference in Mweso, North Kivu. It is a 200-bed referral hospital. Services include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Neonatal, Intensive Care, Pediatrics, and Inpatient Nutrition (CNT: Centre Nutritionel Therapeutique). Oh ya, and psychiatry, which I got voted to run! Our psych mandate includes only those patients who are so floridly psychotic that they pose a danger to themselves or the community.

Jennifer Turnbull

Nationality: Canadian
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Job: Doctor