Something wonderful happened today.
Today was the first day I did Mungele alone. It is the more rural of the two Centres de Santé where I am working. Though an hour away by car, the commute is beautiful.
This part of Maniema province is hilly. The entire way, the road is lined with thick jungle. Every ten minutes or so a small village appears. People wave a shout (nicely!) along the way and we often have to slow down for goats or pigs or chickens in the road.
This morning we arrived to the waves and "Bonjour!"s of the staff. As usual, there was a patient waiting for me to see in the small observation room. The night before, this man had been up in the treetops hunting monkeys. He had fallen 25 feet and was unhurt except for the ¼ inch diameter stick that entered the bottom of his foot and exited the top. He had tried to pull the stick out, but unfortunately it had broken. Not good for him but easy for me; he got antibiotics and a ride back to the hospital with me.
I saw patients with the Consultants for the remainder of the morning, and a bit later a 1 year old came in with fever, cough, and breathing fast. He looked very ill so he got antibiotics and a ride back to the hospital with me, too. At this point I felt good that I was managing this place and its staff alone.
Then the cool thing happened.
The Chief of the largest clan in Mungele came for a call. We shook hands and sat down for a chat. Using an interpreter, he thanks MSF and me for coming to his village. He said that the community felt our presence every day. They no longer had to worry about access to good medical care. But he wondered why MSF hadn't started construction on the permanent Centre de Santé. We'd been open for 3 months and were still in temporary mud buildings. Smart Chief. He knew that until the permanent building went up, MSF could leave as fast as they had appeared.
And then he gave me the eggs. As a gift to welcome me, he handed me four chicken eggs, wrapped in a piece of cellophane, and tied with a string.
I felt very special today. On the ride back to Lubutu I waved to every person we passed. I arrived at Couvent and I told everyone my story. They agreed this whole Lubutu experience was very "chouette", very cool. Yes the people here are lucky to have MSF, but we're lucky, too.