Fieldset
Ebola in DRC: On my way

Australian doctor Saschveen recently returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is fighting an Ebola epidemic – now the second-largest outbreak of the disease in history. In this first blog, she shares her thoughts on the journey to the frontline.

Saschveen Singh - view from the plane

Here we go again.

It’s been a very busy couple of months, and then only a week ago came this urgent opportunity to go and work on an unfolding Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Of course, it’s barely represented in the mainstream western media, but this is the second outbreak of Ebola in DRC this year.

Even during crisis points, we can certainly maintain a sense of humanity above all.

I’m on a plane 35,000 feet high in the sky and continuing my preparations – reading over and over all the essential briefing documents, as well as taking time to brush up on my French again: this time through the eyes of an eloquent contemporary poet hailing from neighbouring Congo-Brazzavile.

saschveen_singh_-_bag_and_book.jpg

Saschveen's bag, and the book she read on the journey
Saschveen's bag, and the book she read on the journey

I bought Alain Mabanckou’s stunning anthology last year in a tiny bookstore in beautiful Belleville in Paris, and have been very inspired by the title poem in particular: Tant que les arbres s’enracineront dans la terre.

Since the dawn of time mankind has thought of itself as the superior species, 

while all day long the tree laughs. 

Take from earth’s depth the nectar of its wisdom, swing from its branches to signal victory, to remain human until the end – for as long as the trees continue to take root in the earth.

(Translation by Rokiatou Soumaré)

My personal interpretation of these words, at this very moment in my life, is that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the bad news and negative things happening in the world right now - not just Ebola, but also war, greed, climate change... the list goes on.

We often cannot even comprehend the extreme power, intelligence and resilience of “Mother Nature” (even if sometimes she only responds predictably in retaliation to humans’ destructive patterns), but even during crisis points, we can certainly maintain a sense of humanity above all.

Find out more about the current Ebola outbreak and its challenges, or support MSF’s vital emergency response