domingo, 6 de março de 2011

Stuck in Islamabad


5 March , 12.00

I am waiting to finally go to the field….I cant way to start working!

Picking up where I left …..

….leaving the airport of Islamabad by car, in a 30 mins drive….. My first impression…. Military checkpoints !! One after the other, at least 10 before I arrive to the house where I was going to sleep…. Once again, the military don’t seam very interested in me as we pass by the checkpoints…

The next day , I call for a car with the help of the guard, when I wake up in an empty house, to take me to the office of MSF…. I have a glimpse of the city, on the way….

Islamabad is a very strange city….created to be the capital, with barely any historical background, with avenues and streets designed geometrically, and the areas are defined as a computer game…A2, F6, G3, etc…. but it has a beautiful set of mountains right on the outskirts of the city that really look like they are walling the city on one side…. The Margalla Hills …

I thought I was going as soon as possible to my place of work, and I get a bit disappointed , when I realize that not on that day (Thursday), but just today (Saturday) ….my departure was planned…. Because it’s a 5 hrs tough drive, and besides the fact that I need to be briefed and prepared on many things (specially when I managed to skip my briefings on the MSF-Belgium headquarters in Brussels) …. and MSF cars don’t leave every day …. So I was kind of stuck in Islamabad…..

I spend a full day at briefings, and once again I realize how important day are… I am quite tired but try to assimilate as much info as I can…

Admin briefing: to understand the structure of the project, to get my per diem money, visas, papers…. Proof of Life document… in case of kidnapping…. It scares a bit ….but its just a formality (it happened before!)….

Medical Coordinator Briefing: to understand how does the hospital works, what has been done, what should be done…..and so many other things…. And I start to get really excited about the project… the population is in need….there is a lot of work to be done…..and that’s why I am here !

Cultural briefing: ohhh my god…. You have no idea , how strict the rules are…. Its one of the most conservative, and fundamentalist Islamic regions of the world…. You cant touch a woman, you cannot talk to a woman, you cannot look to a woman…. (even the expats that work with you)…. And million other details…. Witch make our work as a doctor quite more complicated….there is so much to say about it !!

Security briefing: simple…. Home prison ! House, Car (with covered windows sometimes ), Hospital …..and back the same way…. No contact what so ever with the community… frustrating ;( …. But that’s the way it is !

Head of Mission of Pakistan briefing: Very interesting…to understand all the complexity of the political/military issues of Pakistan…. These region, where I will go ….border of Afghanistan, close to Peshawar… its just to hard to explain…. Once a very hot zone of the “cold war”…. Nowadays ….I guess you all know…. Taliban… The more I know the less I understand…. Afghan-Pakistan-US….ufff…There are some things that I think I should write about ….(at the moment)…. But believe me when I tell you its complex !!! The situation is very tense at the moment (shouldn’t write about it as well at the moment)….but we have no reason to believe that we can be a target…our networking with the community , in loco, is very good and the acceptance of MSF, as a purely medical organization, that offers great quality medical care free of charge, by the local community is good and getting better by the day…

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