After the first two weeks spent in Faradje, the next month of my recent contract in the Democratic Republic of Congo was spent based out of Dungu. The iconic landmark of the town is Dungu Castle:
Among expat aid workers, the weekly MSF “soirée pizza” is an important event, during which many pizzas are created, cooked, and consumed. The brick pizza oven has to be heated for some time before the first pizza can be put in to cook:
Guests take turns preparing pizzas of all imaginable varieties. Once each pizza is ready to be eaten, someone cuts it into pieces and within seconds a dozen or more hands thrust forward, trying to grab a magical slice. A cooked pizza rarely lasts more than one minute on the cutting board.
One night, a bunch of us were invited to the house of Invisible Children, where we had a “soirée québécoise” complete with poutine, pineapple covered in maple syrup, and a campfire to roast marshmallows! While I may have issues with the organisation, I can definitely vouch for the warm welcome and cooking abilities of their staff in Dungu.
Of course, it’s not all fun and games… I was in the DR Congo for emergency measles vaccinations after all! In Dungu, we often had crowds of children waiting for their turn at vaccination sites:
These are the sharps boxes we use to collect the needles used in the vaccination campaign. They were taped up and then burned in an incinerator.
After the vaccination campaign ended, we on the emergency team had to load up all the stuff we’d brought with us and send it to Bunia. Among many, many other things, we had to wash and dry the big blue cold boxes we’d used to keep the vaccines cold:
The first truck that the transport company brought us wasn’t very big. We loaded this MF314 freezer first, then a bunch of other stuff, and eventually the transporter agreed that the truck was too small.
The next morning, February 24th, he brought a much bigger truck. I then organised the loading of the bigger truck, and after a few hours the tarps were on and the truck was ready to head to Bunia:
To make Alan jealous, I also got to drive the truck:
Later that afternoon, just before most of us boarded a plane for Bunia, we took a team photo at Dungu Wando Airstrip:
I got to sit up front and spend the entire time chatting with Dave, our pilot, through the headsets we both wore. I asked him tonnes of questions about the plane, about the instruments and gauges on the dash, about his flying experience and personal life, and a bunch of other topics. It was really neat!
The scenery was pretty cool, especially as we got closer to Bunia, flying over mountains that reminded me of the flights I took between Goma and Beni in 2010.
The outskirts of Bunia, from the air:
Coming in for landing at Bunia Murongo National Airport:
Once we landed, we had to clear customs (even though we didn’t leave the country, we had to have our documents checked and stamped each time we arrived in a town). I was at the back of the line with a Danish guy who speaks Swedish too, so we spent about twenty minutes chatting in Swedish as the line moved very slowly along. All in all, a great day!