Sunday, 26th November 2017: Here we go. I’m already nervous on my train ride to Paris – not, because I don’t know what to expect, but because I have those beautiful memories from my first assignment. From Paris I fly via Casablanca to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Just like the first time, I'm hit by a heatwave as I step out of the plane (it's about 35°C with humidity), but I get used to it fast and actually leave the plane with a big smile on my face.
What follows is the usual annoying paperwork: Even before passport control, they check your vaccination record, then the passport controls and in the end, you have to fill out an entry document. Outside the airport, I wait for my driver, as it is often too dangerous to go by foot due to the continuing conflicts. I actually put on my MSF shirt to make it easier for him to find me. And it works: He immediately walks towards me and says: “Listen, wasn’t it you who gave us English lessons last year? Can we continue now?” – What a nice way to start!
They are all super-nice people from all kinds of countries and professional fields
At the accommodation, I get a really warm welcome and a structured briefing. The first evening I make myself at home in my nice room, that I've got all to myself, which doesn’t always happen on MSF assignments. Also I get to know my new neighbours, all of them super nice people from all kinds of countries and professional fields.
After two days of briefings, on Wednesday I finally see my new workplace: a small mechanical workshop with three other mechanics. It’s a nice surprise to see how well equipped the storage room is and how well trained the employees are. I’m really looking forward to working there. And then we get started: we do a small tour around the city to look at the emergency generators of every building. Those are important in Bangui, as the electricity gets cut off from time to time - there is actually not enough electricity supply for the whole city.
Funny, how small the world is!
The first of December is approaching, a national holiday in the Central African Republic. It’s nice to just sit down and chat with a colleague, something that isn’t done as frequently as it used to be I guess. In the afternoon, I try to send some mails and it takes me hours due to the bad Wi-Fi. However, knowingly I brought a big book for this mission.
On the weekend, I have time to relax: on Saturday, I go brunching in the ‚Grand Café’ with one of our midwives and on Sunday, I go to the swimming pool. There I bump into an old friend who I got to know on an MSF preparatory course before my first assignment – funny, how small the world is!