Well it has only been a month since I arrived, but yet so much has happened in that short time. I turned 40! Which I still can’t wrap my head around. My kind colleagues got me a card and cake and sung happy birthday to me. I have moved into a much more comfortable room, and the Head of Mission worked hard to make the place a more functional living space for all who live here. Now that I am settled in, it feels much more like home.
I am surprised at all the people I meet from other parts of MSF here in Yemen, as well as the people coming to visit from the projects. I never feel lonely. We have had a wonderful Christmas dinner with at least a dozen people. We ate take out Lebanese food. It was my first time trying Lebanese, and it was quite different than the turkey and mashed potatoes that I am used to. I set the table on fire with my napkin touching a candle, but luckily it was caught before any damage was done!
We also had a very lovely new years party, and since alcohol is not legal here, we toasted the New Year with some fake champagne, in coffee mugs! One of my colleagues is from Japan, and she brought some items to make sushi and taught us to make sushi rolls. It was so much fun! We did not use raw fish, but rather veggies and other things. It was delicious!
We did work over Christmas, because it is Christian holiday, and we are in a Muslim country. But we were very lucky to have new years day off, because it is also not a holiday here. Even though I had plenty of work that still could be done, I needed the day off after a very busy accounting year-end.
I have not left the compound in the past month, other than to go across the street to the other MSF house for Christmas dinner, but it has not bothered me at all. We work very long hours, and any time off that I have had, I have been able to keep very busy. I am grateful that we have a home gym (with a barbell!), and there is always something to do, or someone to hang out with. I do miss being able to shop for myself, because it is hard to relay to someone what it is you want, when you don’t know what is available.
As far as the work goes, I have a really great team. They are very knowledgeable and have great work ethic. Even so, the long days can sometimes be incredibly stressful. But it seems that some days are great and some days are hard, just like any other job. On the really tough days I try to remind myself why I am here, and how I can contribute to the good that MSF is doing here in Yemen.
I am very excited that I am going to be leaving the compound this month to visit the projects. It will be interesting to see the work we are doing up close.