Back on the Job with MSF

One minute I was back in Paris enjoying Don Carlo at the grand opera theatre, the next minute I'm on a plane to Ethiopia of all places. On the flight down images from years ago fill my mind; Bob Geldoff, Live AID, staving African children and endless repeats of ''Do they know it's Christmas time at all...?''.

It looks like my role will be in Addis Ababa, the capital city, supporting a field operation in the south west of the country, which is an emergency nutritional crisis intervention. The rains failed and some significant numbers of malnourished children were identified by an exploratory MSF team last month. Certainly not a famine, but human suffering that required a response.

I've spent a week helping set up house and office, arguing with customs officials for the release of the international logistic equipment, therapeutic food, and medical drugs the mission requires, and trying to get an idea of the needs of the field team. Busy time and not a minute for anything else, my bag sits in the corner of my room almost untouched.

Ethiopia is an extremely bureaucratic country with a centrally controlled government system inherited after the end of it's communist phase. Lada taxis still fill the streets, the power is somewhat erratic, and I haven't had a chance to see much of the rest of the sprawling city. But it is cold and wet and Addis is located at a surprisingly high altitude of 2300m. Maybe there'll be something around here to climb?

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