No end to the music

Barwa sits along Lake Chad’s swampy edges in Niger’s south-eastern region of Diffa. It’s the village I come from. My parents used to grow millet and maize and we fished: carps, and catfish over five-feet-long. I miss fishing… As a teenager, I used to drop my nets on the water’s edge, the algae phosphorescent green, and wait for a fish to knock the row of stems knitted together. Often, I stayed to watch the red sun disappear behind sandy islands in the water.

One foot in

The maternal child health project, where MSF will be supporting a district in Sierra Leone, has not begun yet. We are due to commence activities later in January. Currently we are preparing; but as a team of humanitarian workers it is very difficult to be present and not clinically active. We are in an uncomfortable state of limbo, where we are here but without the usual MSF machine in full throttle behind us.

Late for the emergency

It’s shortly after 8am and I’ve just arrived, huffing and puffing, at the MSF base in Bikenge, Maniema Province. The health promotion team – Albert, Daniel and Gaston – is already there waiting for me. They look sharp enough in their collared shirts to meet the Queen of England; but today our task is to raise awareness in the community about malaria.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” I say breathlessly. “I had to take a call – it was an emergency.”

They don’t make a fuss; but something in their regard says, “And this isn’t?”

Living in the aftermath of a disaster

On Saturday, 25 April, when the earthquake struck Nepal, I felt tremors in Delhi. I wondered where the epicentre was and within seconds I got to know from my Twitter feed that it was near Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. In a matter of few hours, I was informed that MSF in India was sending four medical and non-medical teams from Bihar (the state bordering Nepal) and a team from Delhi.