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Two Collapsed Bridges: Hakuna Matata!

Two Collapsed Bridges: Hakuna Matata!

It has been a few days since I arrived at Numbi. It has been intense and full of new impressions. It has been a struggle to get used to and keep up with the French. The idea of ​​how I could be so stupid as to say yes to a mission in a French-speaking country has hit me several times.

Further complicating matters, not everyone speaks French. Most patients in the hospital speak Swahili or Kinyarwanda. I have learned a few phrases in Swahili to greet patients and ask how they feel.

Habari Gani (How are you doing)?

Unaumwa na nini (What’s wrong with you)?

Sometimes I can figure out what the problem is, but if the patient comes with a long story, I am left standing there like a question mark. Fortunately, there is usually a local nurse who can translate between French and Swahili to facilitate communication.

MSF has been working in Numbi since 2014 and has helped to transform the former health centre into a small hospital. The new hospital means that local people now have better access to healthcare than before, when they had to walk on foot or ride a moped for several hours along difficult paths to reach medical care.

The problem of accessibility is one of the biggest challenges here in the mountainous south of Kivu Province. The current rainy season makes the roads extra difficult to use. The 150km journey from Bukavu to Numbi took eight hours. In two places the bridges had collapsed and we had to drive through rivers and small streams to continue on our way. Despite a four-wheel drive jeep, we got stuck once when a small bridge broke. Thanks to some helpful passers-by, the situation was resolved. In Swahili, the term hakuna matata is used, which means ‘no worries’. I think it may be my motto for this assignment!

Ida Moberg, MD, of Sweden is a resident medical doctor in infectious diseases, currently working in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Numbi hospital in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. She joined MSF to “help people, learn new things and see different parts of the world.” This blog post was first published by MSF’s U.S. affiliate Doctors Without Borders.

1969-12-31T19:00:00-0500

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