This is a rather interesting article about the affects of rather intense situations on volunteers/aid workers . Granted, I am not in the forefront of conflict and I don’t have to worry about LRA attacks at this time, but it makes me think about the people I’ve met that are in the midst of the storms. The article talks about a safari lodge in Northern Uganda which is about 3 hours of a drive I think from where I live. Since Peace Corps is concerned about our safety, we are not allowed to drive there. If we fly avoiding the roads that cattle herders have taken out vehicles on, they’ll think about letting us go but keeping us alive is more important than a sweet safari.
Anyways, words in bold are ones that either bring about “so is life” and agree or make me think. Thanks to Terry who posted this on facebook.
“Humanitarian work is not a job, it’s a calling. Nothing is going to stop someone who feels that pull” — Chris Gillanders
Driving along Ambush Alley, a 120-kilometre dirt track that runs between northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chris Gillanders knew not to stop for anything.
It was a lesson the Toronto-based aid worker had learned from experience. That day, he was lucky: The most dangerous stretch of road in the world was free from attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Gillanders was employed by the United Nations World Food Program. His unit, based in northern Uganda, was responsible for delivering 10,000 tons of food aid per month into South Sudan. It was perilous work. Being taken hostage and negotiating his team’s release from rebel groups was a frequent occurrence.
Ambush Alley was the only way to reach a safari lodge in northern Uganda, where aid workers would meet for a little R&R. Although it was generally considered safe at the time, the rebel activity in the surrounding countryside scared off less intrepid travellers and the aid workers often had the lodge to themselves.
“We didn’t think anything about it,” Gillanders said. “The war zone was our normal place of work. When a UN psychologist came and did an evaluation on us, she said our levels of stress were right off the charts, the same as soldiers in a combat zone. The risks we took were beyond abnormal.”