A pharmacist in Uganda: "Kampala here I come!"

17 May 2017

Pharmacist Kim touches down in Uganda, and shares her first impressions of the place that will be her home for the next 12 months...
 
I found myself a little nervous as the wheels touched down in Uganda. I peered out of the window and considered the reality of my decision… A year in Uganda. What does this year hold for me? What is the living situation like? What will the team be like? Will I have the skills to do the job? I’d been to Uganda on vacation so I know it’s a beautiful place, but vacation offers a distinct perspective versus reality.

Traffic here is like a well-orchestrated ballet to music that has never been written

The trip was easy. An overnight flight from Paris to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia followed by four hours at the airport before my short flight to Entebbe. An MSF driver met me and off we went on the chaotic, noisy drive from Entebbe to Kampala, about 32km.
 
It’s a constant hum of blowing horns. Cars turning in front of traffic, people walking everywhere, boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) going every direction (and wherever they want to include in between everything else), and the Matatus (mini-van taxis stuffed with people and their belongings) impatiently zigging in and out of traffic to pick up and drop off passengers. It’s sunny and beautiful and Lake Victoria is right there! As crazy as it sounds, it’s like a well-orchestrated ballet to music that has never been written. Somehow it all just works. I’m encouraged that I’ve made a good decision.
 
Kampala here I come!
 

The MSF/doctors without borders guest house in Kampala, Uganda, is surrounded by lush greenery
The MSF guest house in Kampala. Photo: Kimberly Cremers / MSF.
 
After a 90-min drive, we arrived at the “guest house” within the MSF compound which will be my new home. The offices are also in the compound so the commute to work will be quick!
 
The guest house is a big duplex with six rooms, four full baths / two WCs, two kitchens, and plenty of living room/dining room space. It is large enough sleep up to 14 people and seems to stay pretty full. While I’ll be sharing a room for the first days, I’ve been promised my own room (with a bathroom) since I’ll be the only permanent resident (for now).

The offices are also in the compound so the commute to work will be quick!

The guest house is where all the MSF staff going to, or returning from the field stay while in transit through Kampala, as well as the other MSF staff (technical referents, leadership, trainers, regional team members, etc.) visiting the Kampala office or heading to one of our many field projects. Since this is a family mission my colleagues on the coordination team (MSF leadership team in the capital for the country) all have their families here and stay in separate accommodations. There are other MSF teams working in Kampala and I’ll talk more about that later… once I get a better handle on how it all fits together. And now for the best news of all… I can take a hot shower!
 
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