The direct translation of “Pré Avis” into English is “Notice” and I have been spending a lot of time giving Pré Avis in the Congo over the past months. Notice to our partners about how and when we would leave. Notice to the authorities in the village about the upcoming changes. Notice to our patients – the beneficiaries – about what will happen to them once we’re gone.
Finally, our closure has a huge impact on the 92 national staff currently working in Dubie and I have also been kept busy by giving notice letters to most of them over the past few months.
It is true that MSF experience looks great on a resume and makes our staff much more employable. It is also true that our severance package is good enough to help them through the next few months as they earnestly start a job search. But the reality is that most will be out work in a country where there really aren’t that many jobs.
I’ve highlighted the story of four people to help give you a better idea…
Jolie was expecting on the 28th of June so she was VERY pregnant by the handover date. This will be child number three and she figures that four should be enough…so only one more to go! She has been working for MSF since 2007 as a community liaison officer and spends most of her time sensitizing the population on general health issues, coordinating with local health committees and effectively providing the link between MSF and our beneficiaries that we simply cannot do without national staff.
She has a certain presence about her and when she speaks people are always nodding their heads and shouting out in agreement. Impressive. While she enjoys this work, her lifelong dream is to become a nurse so she has been saving up her money and is going to take advantage of the Dubie closure to go back to school. Very exciting! All the best Jolie.
Fanny is a nurse and has been working with MSF since 2006, spending two years as part of our emergency response team and another two years as a member of the Dubie outreach team. It has been a long stint, especially considering that she comes from Lubumbashi and has spent the past four years away from her family, visiting only once per year during her annual leave.
This is a common story with most of our medical staff and, as Dubie closes, most are simply looking forward to going home, spending time with their families and hoping that something else within MSF will turn up. Fanny’s smile was even bigger than the one in this picture as she boarded the plane and left Dubie and her life from the past 4 years behind her.
Jacques is the admin and finance assistant here in Dubie and, as such, he is my right-hand man. He is also one of 7 ‘Jacques’ working in Dubie so to avoid confusion he is always referred to as “Jacques Admin”. Starting with MSF in 2006 as a storekeeper, he quickly rose in the ranks to become one of the most senior national staff in the Dubie project.
Due to his hard work and good attitude, he joins the minority who will not actually lose their jobs but will be transferred to other projects in the mission. There is also a certain amount of luck involved as the Dubie closure happens to coincide with the opening of a new project in the northern part of Katanga. As with any other company, we cannot simply create jobs for our good staff…but it is great to have this opportunity to at least keep some!
Esther is the cook for the expatriate team. To say this is not an easy job would be an understatement. Cooking food she has NEVER eaten for people of different ages from different countries and for a team that is in constant flux with expats coming and going.
In this entry, Esther represents the national staff who were hired locally and for who their notice letter really spells the end of the road. The cooks, cleaners and guards all face the same situation. Their current job is over and there is little chance for re-employment in Dubie. Most will return to older routines like collecting water, tending goats and tilling fields. Others will take their service record and try their luck at finding employment in one of the bigger centers.
Regardless, the closure of Dubie affects this group much more than the others so a big “Bon courage et bonne chance” to them all!