It's finally happening. I have remained stoic during the goodbyes in Los Angeles and even en route to New York City for my briefing. Today however, I reviewed the tangible objectives and expectations with the desk and I am now boarding air France flight number 009, this is it.
Aside from the 10 years in the making, it's been a year since I applied through the New York City office. After the online application, two interviews, an "info days" session in New York City, I was invited to the weeklong Preparation au Premier Depart Administrative (PPDA) training in Paris last April, where I was part of an international group of 15.
I had gotten used to telling people I was leaving with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)/ Doctors Without Borders for a year but I was unable to share any details of where and when since it was undetermined. For some the uncertainty was nerve racking but I embraced it as I took advantage to see family and friends and free time - unheard of while at my previous job. Many people are wary for my safety given the influx of media from the Central African Republic (CAR) this year. While I knew MSF wouldn't send people going for their first mission to emergency projects, there is a big demand for staffing and I didn't know what to expect.
Once my availability time-frame came though, I had a project assigned in 3 days - and that was 5 days ago; now I have 3 hours to arrive to Paris and 8 to Chad. Et voilà MSF.
Today I learned that the Gore refugee camp is not a dire emergency anymore. There are no reliable numbers in terms of total refugees because it is extremely difficult to define whether people are refugees from CAR or Chadians nationals who had come back to Chad - (plenty had emigrated to CAR). This has led humanitarian actors to struggle to define the level of operations and response in the region.
MSF has operated in various areas of Chad for more than 30 years and stepped into Gore in February to provide assistance to the people who have fled CAR. Our focus in the next months will to provide malaria prevention for children as the rain season begins. Currently in Gore MSF employs around 40 staff. I will oversee administrative duties and human resources-from what I've been told it won't be total chaos since there's already an assistant administrator.
I got many questions answered, more arose and we'll see how my briefing in Ndjamena goes the day after tomorrow.