Our clinic is quite nice when it is air conditioned. When it isn't, I quickly realized that our structures are essentially insulated metal boxes sitting in the sun. The temperature was somewhere between 40 and 50, I now appreciate air conditioning more than ever. Digging trenches in the sun to run the cables was hard work, but I made good friends.
I'm starting to feel a real bond with Papua New Guinea and the wonderful people I work with and live around. Before I left I was worried that by now I might be missing the home comforts (after 2 weeks all I wanted was a bath and a cheese burger) but now what worries me the most is that I won't want to leave. Talking to some visitors recently they made a comment about the frequent violence in Papua New Guinea.
Life happens to you even when you work in the field.
In MSF you work to alleviate human suffering. You strive to help and support people as much as possible, every day. In the midst of this, it is easy to forget that you too are only human, that on occasions you too will need support.
Sometimes one’s usual coping mechanisms are not enough. When the big things hit you, like the loss of someone close - the great life changes - the mind is not prepared for such an overwhelming situation and has limited ways to handle it. This results in anxiety. Crying at night. Insecurity. Fears. Deep sorrow. I just acknowledge how much loss hurts. How deep sorrow actually can cause physical pain in the body.
So what do I do? Every day I need to get up and continue working for the people who I am here for. And doing that actually helps me feel better, that gives me purpose. Little by little, it will all turn out alright.
What is also impossible to deny, is the warmth of the people. I was worried before I came to a new culture that I might not fit in, that my different cultural background might make it difficult to understand the Melanesian way of doing things. But I've learned that there are far more similarities than differences between the states and PNG.
Nonetheless, I do miss home & the familiar faces.