Photo source: Daniela WIDMER

Not many people can say, "I am in the middle of Africa".  But I can righteously say "I am in the middle of Africa!" Central African Republic (CAR).  Yes, it's a real country and yes, it is smack in the middle of the African continent.  Very original name!! When I got the job posting for an MSF project in CAR, I have to admit, I quickly pulled up a map to locate the country! CAR is a large, relatively unpopulated country that is often forgotten.  Plagued by armed conflict and unstable political situations for years, CAR has been unable to provide adequate infrastructure or healthcare to its population. Contrary to its neighbours (Sudan, Chad, DRC, Congo, Cameroon), CAR receives little international attention, however the needs of the people here are high. That is why MSF is here, to provide healthcare to the forgotten people of CAR.  And that is how I ended up here too. At the beginning of December, I extracted myself from my life in Vancouver, left behind  comforts, routines, my job, friends, family & loved ones.  I carefully packed some necessities, said my goodbyes and propelled myself forward into the unknown.  I was slightly anxious... I often wondered what have I signed up for? But the wheels were turning and there was no stopping the momentum.  I was moving forward, toward CAR.  From cold and wet to hot and dry. After multiple exhausting stopovers and transfers in Europe, I  arrived to Bangui, the capital.  From there I got into a small 14 seater plane  and we flew north over the vast, rather empty country side... I drifted off to sleep. I was jolted awake when the plane did a low "fly by" over the runway, to confirm the runway was clear, no obstacles, no animals, no people.  Final touchdown in Boguila!!  This is my new home and my new work site for the next 8 months. Phew! Stepping off the plane... I quickly realized the arrival of the plane is a town event. The airstrip lined with people, children running and flashes of colour everywhere.  It's hot, it's dry.  The morning sun already hot and powerful... the dry season is in full swing! I am tired and disoriented, but there is no time to stop. Meet a bunch of people... drop my bag... and off to work! I had a tour in the hospital grounds and meeting the rest of the MSF team.  People come and go so often here, that everyone says hi, then goes back to work. Arriving was obviously only a big event for me. My head was spinning. The nurse that I was replacing showed me around. The amount of work and tasks to be done, seemed impossibly large. But I followed her around, smiled, shook hands and tried to keep the panicked look on my face in control. Finally the day ended and I had survived. I was beyond exhausted! Goal one: Make it to Boguila in one piece. Achieved.

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