Fieldset
Sturdy boots and strong blue cheese: What I pack in my MSF mission kit

With his bag packed and ready to go, British logistician Dan runs through the “universal” items that will help get him through an assignment anywhere in the world.

MSF logistician Daniel Campbell

“Mission cancelled” 

The subject line of the email comes as no surprise but it still delivers a sharp blow. 

My own disappointment at not deploying on assignment aside, having only hours earlier submitted my application to the Nigerian visa service, my thoughts turned to the project. 

Two bags of strong Italian coffee, a small coffee maker, and some strong blue cheese. These personal items can make all the difference when finding my feet in a new project.

The team currently on the ground has to extend their own assignments, just at the time that they would be becoming stretched to breaking point as  “‘at risk”’ staff need to be sent back to their home countries due to COVID-19.

They must also be terrified in anticipation of the impending crisis about to be unleashed on the local community.

How can people socially distance when they live in the cramped conditions of a displacement camp?

I am left with little else to do but wait…

Mission kit

So, what does waiting look like for an MSF logistician?

I have no idea when the COVID-19 related restrictions will lift or where I will be asked to go when they do, so I have to keep my bags packed for a variety of locations, climates, and conditions.

However, there are a few universal pieces of kit that I will take on any assignment and which always stay in my “mission kit”: 

•    “Builders trousers”
These multi-pocketed trousers are great for holding my tools and will come in handy whether I am laying a concrete pad, building a makeshift infant resuscitation table, or extending a project’s pharmacy. And, the front flapping pocket is just big enough to fit my water bottle in. 

•    Tape measure
Often simple tools like a tape measure can be in short supply when arriving in a project, so having one to hand can help minimise delays on arrival. 

•    Circuit tester
Safety first! I like to give a small circuit tester to my electrician upon arrival in a new project. Whilst a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment, this can be hard to come by in the field. It’s also an important signal to my new team that I take their safety seriously.

•    iPod
From chilling out after a long day to keeping fit by doing pullups on a bar extended across two MSF Land Cruisers, my iPod has been an invaluable tool for giving me some headspace in previous missions.

•    Bunting
Every project is different, however, one constant seems to be that personal space is a little grim until you make it your own. On my last mission, I took some fairy lights to brighten my room, and this time, I have some homemade bunting to decorate my living space.

dan_campbell_landcruiser.jpg

An iPod is an essential item for Dan Campbell, who likes to keep fit by doing pullups on a bar extended across two MSF Land Cruisers.
An iPod is an essential item for Dan Campbell, who likes to keep fit by doing pullups on a bar extended across two MSF Land Cruisers.

•    Sturdy boots
A lot of people prefer flip-flops or lightweight trainers, however, I like the security a pair of boots can provide. 

•    Bracelets
Not only am I a big fan of an armful of bracelets but these inexpensive trinkets can be a really convenient item to have close to hand when visiting cultures where gift-giving is an important part of initial greetings.

•    Home comforts (the most important)
Two bags of strong Italian coffee, a small coffee maker, and some strong blue cheese. These personal items can make all the difference when finding my feet in a new project.

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