It’s exciting to plan for a pre-trip. There are nerves of course, especially knowing that we are heading to a brand-spanking new location, one never before visited by an Operation Walk team. There is pride, because our leadership at OpWalk has deemed us ready to spread our wings and take this leap. There is excitement because of our new partnership with the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. And there is a small bit of dread for the travel, because when you do a pre-trip you are often in the air longer than you are on the ground.
In just a week the pre-team will be flying from the U.S. to Kinshasa, the capital of The Democratic Republic of the Congo. It will be nearly 19 hours in the air plus some additional layover time in France. During the flight over the focus will be preparatory discussions of all of the topics we will need to review at the hospital in Kinshasa and with the DMF team once we are on the ground in Congo. Upon arrival we will be transferred to our hotel and our meetings will begin with discussions with the hotel management about our team’s needs during our stay with the greater team in 2016.
We will have 2 days to visit the hospital and meet the staff there. We are planning to have a discussion with the hospital’s surgical staff to come to agreement on needs for the medical mission, supplies, shipping, and so much more. Building relationships with the hospital team is extremely important to the success of any mission. Our goal is to get to know the team, discuss our program and the potential patients. Then a plan will be put in place to locate patients, discuss the needs to review each patient and commit to a schedule.
The pre-team, consisting of 2 surgeons and our 3 team leaders, will spend 2 days meeting with hospital officials, government officials, and other local contacts. When we return in 2016, there will be 50 WOGO team members traveling with us and this initial trip is the basis for excellent organization during that medical mission. It will be exciting to meet our host doctors and see where the next mission will take place.
After the whirlwind of meetings and tours we will trundle back to the airport, board planes home, and try to catch up on sleep that we missed while on the ground. And most likely we will be dreaming of the day we will return to start working. Bonne chance, team!