© Florent Vergnes/AFP
I arrived in Bangui off the overnight flight from Bruxelles via Casablanca. It sounds ‘exotic’ but it was not. Busy, noisy and cramped, too much hand-luggage for the overhead lockers ( not me - everyone else).
I was picked up and taken to the base where I had briefings for most of the day (in French). Got the gist - but soon realised that my French, which is very good on the weather and in the restaurant setting, needed to up a couple of gears.
Eventually got to my accommodation about 7pm. Pretty tired. Plan was for an early night and up and at 'em the next morning.
It was not to be.
An ambulance pulls up outside the maternity hospital in Bangui. Photo: Borja Ruiz Rodriguez / MSF
30 mins later an ambulance drew up at the door of the house. A doctor jumped out and asked where was the new "gynaecolog". I owned up and I was whisked off to Castor Maternity Hospital to do an emergency hysterectomy for a woman who had complications following an unsafe abortion.
The woman’s uterus had been perforated and had become septique. (Oops that's a French word that’s slipped in - my linguistic skills must be improving). All went well and we both lived to tell the tale.
Got back to the accommodation. Everyone was abed. Tired, sweaty, hot and hungry. Nothing to eat so had some lukewarm filtered water (delicious) and went to bed. Switched on the fan. Nothing. I could have cried. Quandmeme slept like a baby. Baptism of fire.