Yes, I have been halfway around the world (exactly) for 6 months (approximately) and experienced more than I could have ever hoped for. I’m currently resting, recovering and digesting it all. Let’s just start with this amazing view from my 4th floor balcony
I’m in transition-it’s not like losing or gaining weight or changing my hairstyle. This is all happening inside my head.
After the initial notification that I would be going to Bangladesh I admit my head was spinning but then I traveled to Germany and spent a week with 30 other like minded individuals from many different countries and backgrounds all embarking on a similar journey to humanitarian medical provider/support worker.
Some, like me, have been “matched” to their first mission. in fact 3 of us are going to the same place in Bangladesh. Other highly matched destinations were South Sudan, Central African Republic, Jordan and Uzbekistan.
The training itself was pretty intense. Long days, 8:30am -6pm with generous lunch and coffee breaks plus an evening 5 hour scavenger hunt/team building game. The first days provided an overview of MSF-history, organization, philosophy and moving into discussions about applying all that to practice.
The last two days focused on security which got pretty real. The aggressive behavior module included interactive role playing about what to do at a checkpoint, in the event of abduction and dodgy taxi drivers. I appreciate the transparency-I feel informed.
In the week since my return I have been more open with people at work about my plans and this has made a real shift in my heart and mind.
For the few people who read my blog and one in particular…looking at you Mrs Reilly…
I am going to Bonn, Germany for a week of PPD-Preparation for Primary Departure Training.
When I return I will have a mere 3 weeks before I embark on my life-changing 9 month assignment in Bangladesh.
I have a boatload of documents to fill out, tomorrow I’m getting a bunch of scary vaccinations-Yellow Fever, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis…
The potential danger of this work takes me back to being in the Air Force when I also submitted to vaccines, photos and signed grim documents about who I designate to take possession of my tortured, dead body.
I will be closing down my blog aka making it private. I’m shutting down all social media. I will be available by personal email only.
On a positive note, I found someone to rent my apartment which makes this whole adventure financially possible. I’ve resigned my government position which is a huge relief. I’m not really a government job person-I’m more up to my knees in mud or up to my elbows in body fluids person.
I looked back to see my last post to see where to pick up and wow how things have progressed.
I have been offered and accepted an assignment in
Yes, it official. 9 months in Kutupalong Bangladesh. I’ve read that two refugee camps near Cox’s Bazaar on the Myanmar border have swelled in the last year to nearly 500,000. I will be working at the hospital at Kutupalong.
Now begins the process of getting there. I resigned from my comfy government job yesterday. I’ll be going to Bonn Germany for a week of training and simultaneously getting medical clearance and a scary list of vaccinations–typhoid, yellow fever, rabies…
I’m committed though-I thought about how I would feel if I changed my mind and decided I would regret it.
I may be old, I’ll be 61 this year but I feel like this is the biggest, baddest act of my whole life. It will be my legacy for my children….grandchildren.
My dream job is fast becoming a reality. Right before Christmas I drove to NYC (12 hours), met with the recruiter, had lunch with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson and then the next day drove back (12 hours). Epic!
The “interview” was somewhat of a formality and was heavy on questions like “How do you feel about living in a tent with strangers?’….”Do you know what a long drop toilet is?” and “How do you feel about vaccinations?” and less about my actual professional experience.
We did cover the highlights of my military experience and other international experience. I uncharacteristically offered stories and examples of my adventerous activities that have led me to this point.
My references and background are being checked and I hope to get confirmation for my induction which is tentatively scheduled for Jan 30 in NYC..expenses paid.
If everything goes smoothly I could be in “the pool” and awaiting an assignment on Feb 1.
I am now obsessed with watching news and videos about Africa, particularly South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
I printed off the quarterly news letter from Doctors without Borders and had a slight tingle down my spine reading the words:
Doctors without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontieres teams work in some of the most difficult and dangerous places in the world. Approximately one-third of the medical humanitarian assistance provided by MSF is for communities caught in armed conflict….
I know I have found my place.
I previously posted about my shabby stove. On Christmas eve I received this beauty from my children although technically my daughter is the mastermind…
I think this is the first brand new stove I have ever had…in my whole life! There’s nothing like time and wanting to make a fairly common gift seem magical.
I have simple needs and this double oven 5 burner gas stove clicks damn near every box.
I recently wrote twice about my dream job here and here. Well, in the last 48 hours I got an email introduction to the “pool manager” (as in pool of field workers) in Amsterdam and then another email introduction to the field work recruiter in NYC which said that my resume had already been vetted and approved for an IPC Manager. (!)
This led to a phone conversation with a Dutch gentleman (with a sexy accent) in NYC where he told me that they want to now expedite my application and on boarding. He said lots of other wonderful things about my professional experience-quite a contrast from my current job.
I text a few former co-workers and asked if they would provide references and got back very positive thumbs up!!
Monday I will ask about a 3-4 month leave of absence but what I really want to do is quit my job and take a long 9-12 month assignment. Even though it’s technically a “volunteer” position-it does pay a $2000/month stipend with all other expenses-travel accommodation, meals provided while in the field.
This weekend I will crunching numbers and looking at ways to cash in some assets to cover my house expenses.
For rent: Large 2 bedroom apartment, Suburban Chicago….
Even if this falls apart somewhere down the line, today restored my faith in hard work and patience because sometimes dreams do come true.