Here we go!
After an intensive training in Amsterdam on how to deal with the Ebola epidemic, the time has finally come. Federica, a project coordinator from Piedmont and I fly to Kigali in Rwanda.
From there we continue the next morning by car: it takes us four hours to get to Goma, a big city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dry briefings, amazing spirit
The local team gives us a warm welcome; accommodation and dinner have already been prepared. From the first moment on, the overwhelming team spirit, which I already learned to appreciate in previous projects, captures me.
The briefings, e.g. briefings on local conditions, including the security situation in the country and in the area in North Kivu where the project is located, will take place in the next two days. What sounds a little dry is in fact the exciting start of my work in one of the largest Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) projects worldwide.
MSF manages two hospitals in the locality of Mweso and in Walikale territory and fully supports nine health centres in those two locations.
In addition to all this, MSF has its own reproductive health clinics in Mweso and Walikale called Tumaini - hope. And in Goma town, the capital city of the province, MSF coordinates an Ebola prevention campaign as well as a treatment centre.
What do I have to expect in Goma? Selfie at the arrival at "Hopital Provencial de Nord-Kivu".
Suddenly paediatric anaesthetist
During the days before I start work in Mweso, I'm able to work in surgery and anaesthesia in the Hopital Provincial du Nord-Kivu. Here too, I am welcomed with open arms. The mixture of French, sometimes somewhat formal politeness, and the open-minded and hearty friendliness of the Congolese people inspire me.
I'm impressed by how high the quality of clinical work is - despite the limited space, scarce resources and the high number of patients.
The anaesthesia team consists of two experienced nurses who are responsible for three operating theatres. They are happy to accept my offer of support. Starting as soon as day one, I find myself as a paediatric anaesthetist, one of my favourite areas of responsibility. The mutual interest in the procedures is great and the best basis for any cooperation.
With all this going on, my "waiting time" in Goma seems to fly by ...