Back in the CAR

David the surgeon prepares for his third trip with MSF to the Central African Republic.

I’m eating breakfast in New York. I was supposed to leave for the Central African Republic (CAR) three days ago but the most recent snow storm in Washington D.C. delayed my visa so instead I am leaving today on a two-legged flight from JFK to Bangui with a single 12 hour lay-over in North Africa. I used the extra days to work on my list of things that needed to be done before I left then came east 24 hours early to visit with my mom and sister for a day.
This will be my third trip with MSF and my second time in CAR. I was there in September 2012 working with MSF at a hospital in the western part of the country</a>. Once you’ve visited another country, you can’t help but follow the international news there a bit differently. So since 2012 I have kept an eye on the news from CAR, following the conflict as it has grown, paying attention to the names of the different factions and how they and the conflict are described and characterized by the different international presses. I saw the recent uptick in reporting on CAR as the crisis has escalated and seen photos from there ranging from heart wrenching to horrific. So when I was asked to go to CAR again, I said yes to the opportunity to go back and see these changes first hand.
As much as you can have a routine for something you have only done three times, I seem to have followed mine for preparing for these trips (I’m reminded of Tony Danza’s description of Rocky III in the 80’s TV sitcom Taxi when he said “Alex, it’s the best Rocky movie since Rocky I”). So far there has been the initial excitement, the feelings of guilt about leaving the kids, the anxious dreams filled with obvious symbolism, the list of things that need to be done before I leave that really should be called the list of things that will mostly be done before I leave plus a few other things best left un-blogged. I’m anticipating the heat of the CAR, the novelty of being so close to the equator that your sunrise and sunset and daylight hours remain virtually unchanged week to week, the usual buyer’s remorse I have felt for the first few days of my previous MSF missions when I miss the family way too much and ask myself what am I doing here, the frustration and pleasure of being in a French speaking country and the excitement of being in Africa in the middle of a crisis.
This will be my last American style breakfast for a while so I’m going to have a little more scrambled egg from the buffet before I head out. Next stop, Bangui.
Read more from David on our <a href="">Central African Republic blog. </a>