This morning we surfaced and the hum of the street behind the big metal gates indicate it is business as usual, or so it sounds like. We had heard last night that something had entered the compound. There is a Somali word for a lot of weapons and we were told a ‘zoo’, a type of anti-aircraft weaponry had clipped the side of the building last night. We take a look and see that the damage is a healthy chunk missing from the outer wall and pockmarks in the surrounding area where fragments had flown in various directions taking chunks from the wall. The building is solid and the damage is relatively minor, but as we sit down to breakfast we just wonder what happens when this happens in the displaced camps or the thousands of homes and shanties that have plastic sheeting or simple tin walls and roofs. The MSF clinic here does not do surgery; we are a paediatric and anti natal care facility. So we won't see these people at our clinic but no doubt they are plenty of people at one of the private hospitals in town if they can afford it.
We get into the car with our armed guards (this is one of the two places in the world that MSF has had to concede to armed guards, but there is no option when you operate in Somalia). Each day starts with a security meeting at the clinic, it is all in Somali, but the information is shared from the various areas the staff live. People go around and nearly everyone has something to say on last nights fighting. As people tell their stories, we wait as the whole meeting will be translated and summarised afterwards. As one of the doctors is speaking Jelle leans over, he tells me that this is usually a man of few concise words, so there really must be something serious. The stories go on and people shake their heads in what looks to me like disbelief. It makes you realise that whilst MSF is treating people in the clinic everyone, including our national teams are confronted and affected by this violence everyday, on their way to work on their way home, it is endless.
As the meeting ends we bump into the doctor, the one of few words. Jelle asked him if everything was all right, and he tells us of a terrible night last night. He spent the night on the floor of his house with his family as the shelling was directed in his neighbourhood.
We keep talking for a while and at the end he tells me "For MSF to come here was a good decision, this is a responsibility and I would even work for free here as this is a time for humanity"… What more is there for me to say really.