29 December 2015

Dodo Kibasomba. Photo by: MSF

Dodo Kibasomba spent six months in Mali for her fifth assignment with MSF, working on a (CPS) Malaria Prevention and Vaccination campaign, which consisted of two months of preparation and four x 1-month campaigns.

MSF fieldworker Dodo Kibasomba, a nurse originally from Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has worked with MSF in South Africa, Mauritania, Niger and South Sudan. Dodo worked as the Medical Activities Manager northern Mali.

What were some of your roles and responsibilities in Mail?
I was responsible for coordinating two months preparations, and the four campaigns, as well as follow up on field activities. Making sure activities in the field are running according to plan. One campaign runs for four days. Eight MSF staff worked with 1300 government staff to carry out the campaign. MSF was also involved in helping train government staff for future such projects so that they are able to continue such activities.

Can you describe what a typical day was like for you?
I was not in the field every day, but I communicated with the field every day. When I felt like I needed to go to the field to see what is happening I did, otherwise, I was in the office coordinating activities.

What are some of the challenges you faced while in Mail?
Mail was not easy in terms of security, especially northern Mali, they want to make peace between the government and those on the opposition side. They sign on the papers but in reality, the peace is not yet there.

What was the hardest part of your job?
For us who were there every day, we would hear that there is an attack somewhere, explosions somewhere day by day, but the place where MSF was working (Asongo), the six months we were there, nothing happened in that area. Things were not happening where we were but we knew we were not in a safe place.

What was the best part of your job?
Things are different but we accepted the context we were in. The good part of the work was when I arrived and met people I could work with, with almost everything. The best part was their acceptance.  MSF and the government worked together as a team, with the community as well. The community accepted us as well and accepted what we wanted to do, giving products - the three drugs. One drug was giving on the site of distribution and two were given to the mother to give to the child at home. Everything was explained to the mother so that she understood that her child will be protected for 28 days. The vaccination is happening now because those four months were the highest transmission of malaria in Mali that’s why we did this project so that children can be protected. We lost many children to malaria.

What motivated you to keep grounded?
Once you have done the work and you go through the evaluation of what you were doing, this is where you see the impact of your work, the result of your work. Work gets compared to previous years and previous projects, the number of malaria cases, severe cases of malaria in children. Comparison to the number of children who have died. When you see the results, that stats are lower, it’s very encouraging because you realise you are saving people’s lives. You see that when we (MSF) didn’t do this, people died and children died. It makes a big difference.

What was the most memorable moment for you during your assignment?
Security, it is not okay, but the neutrality of MSF and independence of MSF is helping us to work without problems. Where we worked there was no other organisation there, they are allowed to go but afraid to go there. MSF went there, they know us, and they know we are not political.

What did you achieve both personally and for MSF?
We get to work where other people do not want to work. People understand MSF now, especially our neutrality, we don’t have any side, and we are just there for the community. We stay with people in the community, they can see what we do, and they can see we are not involved in politics. Personally, I am enjoying growing with MSF, experience by experience it is helping me to grow my career. I am getting a lot of training when I do projects like this, it helps me a lot.

How supportive is your family of your career with MSF?
That is another thing. It’s not easy, but they understand and they accept what I do but it’s not easy.

What are your plans going forward?
I would like to go to a place that is more stable. After being in South Sudan earlier this year you never know what’s going to happen, even when you are sleeping, and Mali was the same. I would like to go somewhere where the security is a bit stable.
Find out more about MSF's work in Mali