My first field visit

The morning meeting brings news that the MSF Khost porject, near the Pakistan border, is to re-open. I set out with a team to look at what is needed on site to get up and running.

Good morning every body,

It’s Saturday, the 29th of December, it’s 8am, the sun is shinning as much as he can but it’s still a freezing -9 C. We are gathered on the terrasse for the little morning meeting which starts every working day. The head of mission tells us that today the MSF Khost project (south-east of the country, close to the Pakistan’s border) re-opens after few months of closure due to some security incidents. We are all frozen but this news make us happy.

Today, I am going on my first field visit. As Flying Supply Support, my responsibility is to help all the projects with their supply chain concerns. The MSF Afghanistan mission has four projects :

  • Ahmed Shah Baba. Two hours driving east of Kabul. Maternity hospital (around 700-800 deliveries/month)
  • Lashkar Gah. South-west. General hospital
  • Kunduz. North. Trauma center
  • Khost. East, on Pakistan’s border. Maternity

My first visit is to Ahmed Shah Baba. I have two days to understand how works the project at supply level. Results from the first day are really positive but there are still some things to improve. Cool, this means that my presence here is justified. In the evening, well the afternoon actually, at 4:30 pm the working day is over for the expats at the hospital (due to security rules). Talking, report writing, email reading keep going at home, albeit in a more relaxed atmosphere.

The expat team in this project is quite small (7 people) but it’s very pleasant to be here, and the friendly team made me welcome. But there is one more working day before New Year’s Eve, so I should go to bed early. Around 10:20 pm, I was quietly reading in bed when it started to shake. At first I though it was a truck driving past the house but the feeling lasts for about twenty seconds. And I remember that the road is not usable for trucks. I am still asking myself when it stops. Nothing else. Some people are talking in the corridor… Everything seems to be fine, I can go back to sleep.

The next day at the morning meeting, Jamale, head of the project, tells us there was an earthquake last night, magnitude 5.8 on the Richter scale. So that was it, the bed shaking … Fortunately there were no damages or injuries reported.

The second day went very well. Lots of talking with the team, lunch in the sun – wind free, it’s really pleasant – and finally a few more discussions. Suddenly, it’s 3:30 pm, time for all of us to head back to the Kabul compound to get ready to leave 2013 and welcome 2013 !!