Little disasters occur when an immigration officer loses documents that should have been faxed to the Papua New Guinea embassy in Brussels days ago. Now they are finally in Brussels, and our visas are being processed. If all the pieces of this jigsaw fall into place, our team will be leaving some time early next week. Probably next Wednesday. Get going already…you must be thinking! So am I!
Let me explain what has been happening. Aside from the felicitous misplacement of visa papers, a team of two MSF staff, our temporary head of mission (Lauren) and our logistician (Leslie), have been in PNG for the last couple of months trying to climb over walls of paper, while building other walls for our clinic (termites are feasting on the hospital we are affiliated with). The rest of the team is waiting. I managed to get my passport back for enough time to dash to Madrid, while my luggage was sent for a vacation to the coastal city of Valencia. It grudgingly joined me back in Madrid after five days. In the meanwhile I have been taking repose in dance classes. Flamenco. Our Project Coordinator (PC)/ Medical Coordinator (Medco) Silvia and Finco Rob are in Amsterdam, seeing family and hanging with friends. Our mental health officer Karen is completing a course somewhere in Holland. Kara, the nurse, is in Australia.
Now you have met all the members of our team.
While we are waiting for our departure to PNG, the place seems to be falling apart. Floods in the Oro Province have killed, depending on the news source, around 200 people, displacing thousands, and affecting a total of 150,000 inhabitants. Floods are inopportune at any time. But when you take the rough terrain in PNG and the lack of infrastructure such as roads, it creates a real hoopla. Lauren is assessing the situation.
Yesterday, a different part of the island, the part we will be flying to in the next few days, Lae, felt the ripples of a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. I am no expert in seismology, but that seems impressive. Luckily, it seems no human damage has been done.
Little disasters and natural disasters.