Fieldset
Proximity

Today I walked to the office for the first time in a week. We are allowed to wander Kilwa on foot again, now that our "security issue" seems to be resolved. We still cannot move to the health centres, so I am catching up on paperwork.

Today I walked to the office for the first time in a week. We are allowed to wander Kilwa on foot again, now that our "security issue" seems to be resolved. We still cannot move to the health centres, so I am catching up on paperwork. The irony that I left my nice, secure, office job to become a nurse because I hated paperwork and being at computer all day… and yet here I am in the DRC… stuck at my desk doing paperwork and reports on a computer… well it isn’t lost.

We have had a lot of conversations about "proximity" this week because of the security situation… Proximity is one of the MSF principles; it goes hand in hand with solidarity. Part of this proximity, as I understand it, means living in a community and working side-by-side with the people you are supporting, sharing their experiences and culture, and sharing your own with them in return… it is one of the reasons why you have expatriates working in the field with MSF, this proximity… So that we each have the opportunity to see that we are really no different from each other, even though it sometimes appears that way if we look from the outside in… So that the people we work with feel less distance from the rest of the world, that they feel like they are still a part of it, that someone that they might not expect cares about what happens to them. But how can you really achieve proximity when there are two sets of rules? We were all feeling very "muzungu" at the moment because we had to go everywhere by car, we weren’t allowed in the market… while the people we live and work with everyday were maintaining the same routine… It was a very "muzungu" experience. It’s not that I don't realize that I am a muzungu, the roosters remind me every day. But when you are trying to blend into the crowd, which already has it's obvious challenges, a blinking sign over your head that says "not from around here" is somewhat counter-productive. Just something I have been thinking about…

I am happy as I walk because at the very least I have proximity to children again. I am happy because I see so many little people and hear so many little voices who soon become little hands in my not-so-little-hands. And for me, there is no sound more joyful then the laughter of children. And here they are everywhere, like a garden of the most beautiful flowers, in all shapes and all sizes, with an abundance of fierce energy and innocence lighting up their sparkling and mischievous eyes. The Congolese people believe that children are what make a person wealthy. Children are one of the many reasons that I love this little piece of the world I live in. I am always happiest when I am surrounded by children. It is why I am a paediatric nurse, even when I am behind a desk doing paperwork or trapped in front of a computer, of course.