Central African Republic: First Days in Bossangoa

04 September 2018

Supply logistician Antoine blogs from Bossangoa in the Central African Republic, where he’s just arrived to begin his first assignment with MSF/Doctors Without Borders...

We arrived in Bossangoa with the MSF plane on the 10th of August.
Bossangoa is the (small) capital city of the Ouham province in the north of the Central African Republic. The city used to be the centre of the crisis between the Anti-Balaka and the Seleka troupes in 2012, but is now relatively calm.
Together with the Ministry of Health, MSF runs the hospital in Bossangoa, a hospital with around 200 beds.

The MSF compound in Bossangoa, Central African RepublicPhoto: Antoine Clogne / MSF

The MSF compound in Bossangoa, Central African Republic.

The hospital is composed of a maternity unit, an intensive care unit, an emergency ward, a paediatric and internal medicine ward, a surgical ward, a laboratory, and an important nutrition centre for the numerous malnourished kids of the area around Bossangoa. 
Additionally, MSF has an important outreach team who coordinate the activities of another hospital in Boguilla, 100 km north of Bossangoa, and in around 22 other health points where a medical team goes every two weeks to provide a basic health care service.
My office and my accommodation are located in the MSF compound at around 10 min walk from the hospital.

Antoine's bedroomPhoto: Antoine Clogne / MSF
Antoine's bedroom.
The rooms are quite basic but the environment is very nice. It's very green; we have a direct view on the river and might have a chance to see hippos during the dry season.
My first day is relatively calm; I get another security briefing, an HR briefing and get to meet my new boss, Freddy, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and who is the head of the logistics for the project.
Freddy handles both technical logistics together with Eric from Canada (maintenance and security) and supply logistics together with me.

The logistics office, including Freddy!

Freddy in the logistics office.

I do a tour of the hospital which is quite crowded and go to meet the staff: (around 100 people in total) doctors, nurses, first aid workers, guards… 
I also get to know my team of Central African staff: Sammy (Supply supervisor); Edison (Data entry responsible), Louise (local buyer), Christian, Esther, Eric, Eustache and Patrick (warehouse staff).
I get to do my first tasks: unloading and sorting the food for the warehouse. It's the responsibility of the supply manager to take care of the food for the international staff and I have the feeling that this is going to be quite a challenge as 80% of the food comes from the capital once a month.

Four massive bunches of keysPhoto: Antoine Clogne / MSF
All the keys I'm responsible for...
Then we have a long weekend as Monday is Independence Day, and it's quite relaxed. This allows me to get to know all the 12 international staff and the compound where we live. I take some time to scroll through some documents and stock reports on the MSF computer, allowing me to slowly get to know the work I will have to handle. Later I walk around the different warehouses where the medical and logistics goods are stored.
I also start doing my routine check on the stock: ensuring, twice a day, that the fridges where some medicines and vaccines are stored are working properly and have the correct temperature. If the drugs get too warm they can be damaged won't be effective.

Antoine checks the freezersPhoto: Antoine Clogne / MSF
Checking the cold chain.