Fieldset
jet plane.

in the airport, finally on my way. i have been waiting for a beginning for some time, not knowing where or when it would come. it's here. it starts now.

in the airport, finally on my way. i have been waiting for a beginning for some time, not knowing where or when it would come. it's here. it starts now.

in my mind, i thought it would start three months ago. i went to germany to train with médecins sans frontières (msf) last october, and during that time, colleagues were getting phone calls: "can you do nine months in northern sri lanka? immediately?" many of them had missions coming into the training session. i assumed that i would be off like a shot, the day i said i was available.

i wasn't. i have been waiting. for the beginning. i packed up all my things, and without a place to live, took myself to brazil for november. no word. came back to toronto, convinced close friends to take me in, and worked in the ER over christmas. still no word. two weeks into the cold canadian january, just as i was reconsidering both my plan and my sanity: word. word up.

i knew as i was waiting that i would realize at least two important things. first, that the time would be fonder in my memory than it was to experience. true. and it will become even more so. i have spent hours with people i care about most in the world and fully participated in every moment because i never knew when the next one would come. i am grateful for each. thank you.

second thing. "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it". wise words. i said i would go anywhere, that i wasn't afraid of being isolated, that i had a wide complement of medical skills and can do a little of everything. i could work in a small team with little back up, and improvise if necessary. that if there was any time in my life where i could go to a place what required close attention to security, now was that time. no wife, no kids, no debt. no one waiting for me to get back.

so, i wished, and then got it. i am off to sudan. a small town in the middle of the country, right on the border between north and south. for those with a grander memory of the struggle there, you will know that it has been at war for many years. much of it is between the south and the north. it is a conflict about resources. and allegiances. and history. darfur has become a media story, particularly in the past two years. and there the war rages on, and the fighting is vicious. but sudan has rarely been at peace since its independence in 1956. it has more people displaced from their homes, because of conflict, than any other place in the world. many of them are from southern sudan where war still smolders. they feel deeply the effects of chronic conflict. it's like a chronic disease. one wastes away from thousands of tiny insults.

the place that i am going is called abyei. you can check it out on google earth. it looks like a smudge in the sand. it sits at the troubled crossroads between south and north, in an area claimed by both sides but owned by neither. tensions, i have been told, are high. i will be working in a small hospital with a small team. aside from that, i know little else. i will find out more this week, in geneva.

boarding now. i learned something else these past few months. that one shouldn't think with certainty about the future. it has helped. right now i don't know how long i will be away, nor what my days will be like. i will let you know as i do and send word when I can.

change can only happen, in the world as in ourselves, with some amount of insight. i hope that during these next six months that i am afforded some about sudan, as a part of our world that is happening right now this very second even now. if I am lucky, maybe i can explain it well enough that i might understand.

that's it for me. boarded. wine service. better take it when i can get it. soon, suddenly, sudan.

james.maskalyk.md@gmail.com