Last week we started the vaccination campaign, after several days of intense preparation, with logistics orchestrating a ballet of cars, motorbikes, and bicycles to send to the bush to deliver the vaccines, syringes, and other materials to nearly 25 vaccination sites validated with the area’s central office.
To be well aware of what is happening on the field, I make a point to go see for myself how the vaccinations take place. The long queues of children under the mango trees, whose eyes widen when they see the needle of the vaccine syringe; the multicolored stacks of vaccination cards scrupulously filled out by the recorder keepers; the ink that marks the small fingers of children who have already been vaccinated to avoid the risk of giving them a double dose the next day . . .
To ensure that vaccination is effective and prevent a future outbreak of measles, we have to go to every village in the health zone and count every person. The travel conditions are epic: jeeps traverse roads that look more like dirt tracks. Motorcycles are loaded with one or two coolers each and cross small streams; sometimes the motorcycles must be carried to reach the most remote places.
And while the vaccination campaign moves, life does not stop: it's already late and we must prepare the payroll; close accounting; make the forecasts for the following month; renew contracts . . . the hours, days, and weeks spin! And after hosting new members of the team every week I'm already starting to prepare for their departure.
Hopefully, in four weeks, we will finish this measles epidemic and we can return to Lubumbashi—exhausted, but happy to have helped the population of Malemba Nkulu at least, and ready to leave for the next mission!