Maram* is not the answer to everything. We can use it to build new roads, to create stands for bladder tanks (huge 10,000L water distribution vessels) and even to absorb swampy lakes outside tents (!) but it can’t be used to build water towers, as can be demonstrated by the collapsed rubble at the end of our shower stands. We all stare in wonder at what on Earth that person was thinking! Then we go back to our queues.
Our team has expanded to over 60 people (+visitors and journalists). This creates some pressure on our 2 shower stands and 2 toilets. Every morning I queue for the toilet, then for a bucket (what’s happened to all of our buckets?), then the tap to fill the bucket, and then the shower stands to take my bucket shower. Then it’s a mad scramble for whatever is available for breakfast (less and less each day) and then the usual bedlam around the cars.
Everything we do is dependent on the availability of cars. If we need to set up a clinic, we need a car, supply ORS points, we need a car, drill for water, we need a car and supervise our outreach teams... we need a car. And of course, all of us think our work is important. So it’s down to Cool as a Cucumber Canadian Andrew to satisfy our automobile needs. He’s just been handed this job (I suspect because nobody wanted it and he was the newest). The poor guy doesn’t flap easily but after 4 days, he looks like he’s had enough.
And this is made no easier by the fact our staff have walked out, disgruntled that MSF has stopped the staff shuttles morning, lunchtime and evening to Jamam town. Suddenly we had few drivers, no radio room staff, no guards and worst of all, hardly any hospital staff.
How were we going to run our hospital wards, OPD clinics, feeding programmes, 3 mobile clinics and 15 ORS points with no staff? We stared despondently at the stream of patients flowing in, soon becoming the usual sea of faces and the 3 expats that would have to handle this alone.
*Maram is a type of grass