Fieldset
Snowed in

Ben blogs from Afghanistan

Children scramble to help carry whatever they can. Our Land Cruiser leans precariously to one side, almost at tipping point. With the supplies unloaded, the crowd around the vehicle rally together to push. It takes the full strength of the engine combined with the arms and legs of 20 individuals to dislodge our trusty vehicle from the sticky mud.

We rush to get everything inside the tent that we put up earlier in the day as the sun dips low on the horizon. We have a curfew that we must not break, 6pm inside the "safe box", an area drawn onto a map around our compound that is considered to be relatively safe for movement. And when we are in the “safe box”, it also means we are close to our base and it is easier to manage if something happens.

Our scramble to prepare before sunset has paid off. There is only a small amount of work left to do in the morning before we begin consultations for the people living in this camp of internally displaced people or IDP's as they are formally known.

These people live in incredibly difficult conditions in camps spread throughout Kabul. Surviving by their pure will to live, in deep snow and sub-zero conditions.

MSF has started an emergency project to provide basic healthcare services to some of these people who are not being helped out by other NGOs.

We are working in six camps within Kabul city so far and seeing around 60 patients each time we run free public clinics. This will continue until the worst of the winter weather is over and the small children get some respite from the cold at which time they can fully recover from their respiratory illnesses which is the major ailment that comes through our clinics.

My job is to set up the clinic and see that the patient flow works so that we don't see people twice or get them mixed up and prescribe the wrong medications. That means that we need four spaces, a triage/waiting area, a male consultation room, female consultation room and a pharmacy.

If space is available in an abandoned building or one of the homes of the residents, we use that, otherwise we put up an MSF tent and divide it up appropriately. The key is for it to be a comfortable space that is warm(ish) and dry.

The pictures give an idea of the challenging conditions that we are working in. It is fabulous relief from my other work here and I've loved every minute spent out in the field.

pic_1.jpg

Camp volunteers and two MSF drivers work hard to free an MSF vehicle from the sticky mud at a camp in Kabul.
Camp volunteers and two MSF drivers work hard to free an MSF vehicle from the sticky mud at a camp in Kabul.
 

pic_2.jpg

Houses climb the hillsides surrounding Kabul city.
Houses climb the hillsides surrounding Kabul city.

pic_3.jpg

 It is rare to catch a man smiling on camera in Afghanistan. This man waits to see the MSF doctors at a temporary clinic in Kabul.
It is rare to catch a man smiling on camera in Afghanistan. This man waits to see the MSF doctors at a temporary clinic in Kabul.

pic_4.jpg

 MSF logistician Waibing Xu from China instructs a team of keen camp volunteers on how to assemble an MSF tent for a temporary clinic in Kabul.
MSF logistician Waibing Xu from China instructs a team of keen camp volunteers on how to assemble an MSF tent for a temporary clinic in Kabul.
 
 

pic_5.jpg

 Young men from a camp in Kabul gather for a photo after helping to setup a temporary clinic for their people in Kabul.
Young men from a camp in Kabul gather for a photo after helping to setup a temporary clinic for their people in Kabul.
 
 

pic_6.jpg

MSF staff prepare for the rush of patients at a mobile clinic for IPDs in Kabul.
MSF staff prepare for the rush of patients at a mobile clinic for IPDs in Kabul.
 

pic_7.jpg

Women explain the challenges of living in makeshift camps in Kabul to MSF staff.
Women explain the challenges of living in makeshift camps in Kabul to MSF staff.

pic_8.jpg

Before consultations begin, camp members receive instructions from field coordinator Jamale about how the temporary clinic will work.
Before consultations begin, camp members receive instructions from field coordinator Jamale about how the temporary clinic will work.

pic_9.jpg

MSF doctor Nicos sees to a young patient at a temporary clinic in Kabul.
MSF doctor Nicos sees to a young patient at a temporary clinic in Kabul.
 

pic_10.jpg

 Satar, an MSF driver, assists the pharmacist in preparing prescriptions at a temporary clinic in Kabul.
Satar, an MSF driver, assists the pharmacist in preparing prescriptions at a temporary clinic in Kabul.
 

pic_11.jpg

A man and his three small children