Field Office: Kabeya Kamwanga, Democratic Republic of Congo

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When I worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we regularly deployed to different regions in Kasai Orientale province to do our mine risk education work. We set up our camp a few weeks at a time and wherever my laptop could comfortably be set up, that was my office.

Here’s a picture of my office set up at the convent in Kabeya Kamwanga, where we regularly deployed on and off for a few months.

Bedroom field office, Kabeya Kamwanga
Bedroom field office, Kabeya Kamwanga

I like my desk near a window, and I got lucky here, because I’m facing one. To my left is my toilet. The full layout of my room is better seen in the picture below. Because I was the leader, I got the deluxe ensuite room–shower and toilet included. The yellow jerry can is my water, to flush the toilet and to fill the bucket for my shower. That’s my bed with my portable, self-supporting mosquito net over it.

Field office, Kabeya Kamwanga, bedroom
Field office, Kabeya Kamwanga, bedroom

Kabeya Kamwanga was the first place I got bed bugs. I was kept up all night, but didn’t bother to do anything about it because there’s always a weird bug or an itch that bothers you in the field. After a few days of scratching, I lifted my t-shirt to show my back to my team and ask their opinion on what they thought was the cause. They gasped. It was completely covered in dozens of red dots–every one a bed bug bite.

The sister in charge was utterly embarrassed that I had been allowed to suffer for that long. My bed was immediately dismantled, removed, and replaced with a new frame and mattress. My room was sprayed with a toxic insecticide. I hadn’t realized just how bad they were until that night, when I finally noticed that I slept soundly, unbothered by bed bugs.

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