I love doing outreach. The cool mornings, the adventure, the scent of tea leaves you can sometimes smell along the road in the morning.
A fantastic part of outreach is being in a close knit team. Our team consists of myself, an expat and national staff logistician, one nurse, and four health workers. Every day in the car we become closer. We have the time on the road to learn about each other, our different cultures and true to any good team, have many good laughs teasing each other. We’ve cut through fallen trees, maneuvered around broken bridges and most importantly saved lives. The team is extremely motivated, though most of them have been through excruciating circumstances. They’ve experienced extreme violence and have themselves been displaced from their homes and separated from their families. Most of my team lives in a camp, with plastic sheeting shelters piled almost on top of one another. I think this is why they are so committed to MSF’s work, they see the need. They live it.
The team © Ashley Sharpe
One thing we get to share is the chance to see all the different villages. Each village has its own personality. It’s so interesting to see the differences between them. I’ve watched as many of these villages have changed over the last six weeks. My first week here, many villages were partially or completely empty. I watched the people’s faces as we drove by, and often there was a look of fear and anxiety on their faces. Then, with a smile, a wave and a hello, you could see the unease wash from their faces and get replaced with relief and happiness as you hear “Merci!” in response to our greeting. As we pass or visit these villages again and again, people are less fearful of the sound of the Land cruiser, and they are already smiling, waving and sometimes cheering.
© Ashley Sharpe
Yesterday we went to Ouham Bac, a site I visited in my first week here. The site I wrote my first blog about a mother and her sick three week old baby. The site that unfortunately, due to security, we have been unable to visit again until now. Along the road, I heard something new being yelled out by the children “Auto Firé!” The team starts to laugh. “What they are saying?” I ask. They tell me it means “Plumpynut-car!” Plumpynut is a peanut-like paste, a therapeutic food that is used to heal severely malnourished children. It is very true, we give out a lot of this stuff, as we see a lot of malnourished children on outreach. Imagine having few resources to begin with and then spending months in the bush fleeing for your life… I doubt the menu is too diverse or filling in this situation. Though most people are moving back to their villages and rebuilding their lives, their crops have not been cared for during the insecurity. Some people’s crops were totally destroyed. This is not something that can be fixed in a short time, so I expect to see more and more malnourished children at our clinics in the weeks to come. Let’s hope the crops grow quickly…