Hello from MPH Guesthouse in Kinshasa, our team’s haven and where I used to attend dances in high school with Kevin. MPH stands for “Methodist Presbyterian Hostel” and in the ‘70s served as the boarding school for missionary kids. Today it hosts an eclectic range of visitors, many of them returning (like me) to their roots. Meals are lively, with Congolese guests and others working with/for NGO’s or churches exchanging project updates.
We arrived last night after another hair-raising drive, this time from Kimpese. We got stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Kinshasa. Huge trucks taking goods from the port of Matadi line up outside the city until 9 pm, when they are allowed to enter. The road is narrow, so cars try to go around them and get stuck in the sand. Small boys appear to dig them out or push them out of the way. Shouting, honking, people selling refreshments car-to-car, Congo jazz blaring from little nightclubs…you can imagine the scene. Luckily the driver found a hole in the jam and was able to wend his way out before the big trucks started rolling or else we’d still be stuck! Finally got to MPH about 9 pm, where Holly Anderson (another MK, and interim manager) had tacos waiting for us. After living on rice, fufu and banganju (manioc greens) the last few days, this meal was a mouth-watering change of pace.
My room is full of equipment bags. The team has gotten into a good rhythm; unpacking the ultrasounds and ECG machines, and getting them charged. New CPR mannequins arrived with Grace (our second team doctor) so little plastic faces are peering at me from around the room. There are 8 enthusiastic UPC graduates, now doing their registrar training in Vanga and Tshikaji (UPC’s 2 other work experience hospitals), at MPH for the 2 days of training at UPC. They are thrilled by MPH – to have running water and electricity and wifi is new to them!
We will leave for UPC medical school soon, and have 2 full days of training there. Hopefully Grace and Vera can squeeze in essentials into those 2 days so that we can have Sunday off. Everyone is eager to see the bonobo sanctuary and explore Kinshasa.