"Back home I left my apartment and car, and packed only the things I always carry with me: my skateboard, my skate shoes and my hat. Most likely, they won't ever get used here: the hat is too hot, the shoes are too thin and the skateboard requires terrain that is rarely found out on the field; if there is even time to relax. These belongings mark my comfort zone though: a piece of home taken with me, something to fall back on."
"The packing has given me huge anxiety. I think it's my brain's way of channelling the monumental anxiety I feel about the mission as a whole, something that is still reasonably graspable. Yet. How many pairs of shoes to pack? What do I bring for work clothes? How much personal stuff can I take with me?"
After taking a break from MSF assignments, Kim decides its time to return to the field. But what will it be like this time? She blogs about what it takes to get ready to spend 12 months in a new country...
Johanna Lönn is a nurse from Sweden on her first assignment with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). For seven months she'll be managing a tuberculosis department at the hospital in a refugee camp in Bentiu, South Sudan. The hospital is the only health centre in the camp. Here she blogs about preparing her suitcase and mind for her first-ever assignment.
'When I told my daughter that my response to the MSF interview question, “How do you deal with stress?” had been the entirely truthful answer, “I tend to make really bad taste jokes”, she told me I’d ruined my chances. Nevertheless they took a punt on me and accepted me onto their list of medics ready for deployment.'
Among the boxes and the chaos, I have just added one last little bag: today I cleared my desk and emptied my locker at work. No longer am I a midwife at Queen Charlotte's Hospital. Writing it down somehow makes it final.