After two months of anticipation, I’m finally packed, I’m ready to leave, and I can string together a sentence in French. The news reports from CAR in the last week appeared on my laptop sporadically via concerned individuals or Facebook links. For a change, this country has had some media attention, but I’m not too keen to read into every detail. As is always the way, the media dramatises events which have been isolated to one or two places, and suddenly a country hardly anyone has heard of is now a place I would be mad to go to. Even so, I do have to pass through the capital before heading out to the project to which I am destined, Zémio, situated in the quiet province of Haut-M’bomou.
This region is affected very little by the politics and fighting in the rest of the country as the Seleka rebellion/government did not take this enclave after the coup d’etat in March. This is LRA territory, and with the Ugandan Army stationed here and some American military advisors in the area looking for Joseph Kony, this spot right on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo is somewhat of an anomaly. CAR is one of the poorest and most failed states in the world according to the Human Development Index. It has a long, volatile history, being in a perpetual cycle of war, negotiations and ceasefires. There is certainly plenty to do here.
I’m not at all concerned. I knew what I was getting into when I applied for this job and I am ready to graft. I enjoy the work, it’s all encompassing and you get your hands dirty. I’ve been at home in the UK for three months now and my feet are twitching, my bank balance is erring into the red and my nails have never been so clean. It’s time. When you work for something you truly believe in, the trust is implicit; we will be watched and be watching and, if needs be, the right decisions will be made.
This post was written on 3rd December 2013