This story was written for the Womens Adventure Magazine…
I am one of those lucky people who is living life combining work and travel.
As manager of a mine clearance programme I get to travel to remote locations around the world, sometimes fairly soon after a war has ended and often to places just simply not accessible to the average traveller.
Currently running a programme in Jaffna, the far northern peninsula of Sri Lanka, where the war ended in 2009 and my teams are now clearing the explosive remnants of over 25 years of fighting.
Having been firmly bitten by the travel bug in my university days, my first ‘proper job’ was working for an international charity but based in the UK and only travelling abroad for short 2 or 3 months stints. I inevitably felt the same pang of not wanting to leave a place as my time there came to an end, having just found my feet, made friends and started to feel like I was becoming part of life it was time to get back on the plane and head home.
I wanted to experience life where ‘home’ WAS one of these wild, wonderful and colourful countries.
Admittedly I don’t remember ‘humanitarian mine clearance’ being on the list at school of possible careers! But when I was offered a job with the HALO Trust it felt too good to be true. Don’t get me wrong, we work hard and sometimes roughing it in pretty rudimentary living conditions…but I have to admit, I kind of love that side of it!
But one thing though which never fails to make me pinch myself being in these places is the people.
If you are reading this then you are a traveller, an adventurer, an explorer. You are someone who thrives in new places, someone who feels most alive when you are on your latest ‘expedition’.
So you will know what I mean when I say ‘it’s all about the people’.
Travelling around the world I have encountered snake charmers, crocodile hunters and witch doctors to name but a few of the eclectic mix of characters I have met along the way. But I have also met mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, uncles and aunts and life long friends.
I have experienced the importance of family and how the poorest of homes can be the most welcoming place in the world at the end of a weary day as you are offered some sugary tea sweetened from the highly prized stash kept for visitors, handed to you by a friendly face hosting a huge grin. Even the most heartfelt ‘thank you’ never seems quite adequate as a response!
The people you meet through travel can be a humbling, lesson learning, character building experience. In my opinion one which you gain more from than you could ever give in return.
You can see the original article here