Once I was afraid, I was petrified…

“I don’t know if I can do this. Then again I don’t know if I can’t do this”


Apparently first said by Ffyona Campbell, I heard this quoted in a talk by www.alastairhumphreys.com/– a rather adventurous fellow who over 4 years cycled round the world! 


It struck a chord with me then and right now….I know exactly what Ms Campbell meant!


As the tyres of my little plane screeched down the tarmac I had a peculiar feeling in my gut about arriving back in my wee town…excitement mixed with a little apprehension. However so it was to be – someone somewhere in their wisdom had decided this quite colossal project was the project for me.


(Maybe it was late on a Friday afternoon or there was free booze on offer during the last HQ ‘where to put people’ meeting).


HA! Who am I kidding…bring it on I say!!


Now we have our location compound secured it’s time to start ‘training the troops’. Word is obviously out that some big new shiny organisation is in town and I am stopped and asked for a job with alarming regularity. It can’t be good for a town when so many skilled people are out of work. On the plus side it means we will be able to cherry pick some really great people to join us.




The very first deminers ready to get started


Operations won’t start for a while until we have trained up all our new deminers, paramedics and supervisors. Not that that means we are twiddling our thumbs….oh no no no!


 I haven’t been this busy in a long time.


 NOT sitting in front of a computer all day, RARELY at my desk for more than 5 minutes, BOMBING around sourcing kit and equipment, OUT IN THE FIELD supervising training courses…setting this whole project up from the start, it’s what I do



Out in the training ground watching our deminers master the painstaking job of demining



Getting in on the action – it’s important to get the training absolutely spot on


Don’t get me wrong…I’m far from finding this a walk in the park though but I am enjoying the constant tough questions which my team throw at me, trying to figure out a ‘culturally acceptable’ way to approach challenging situations, I’m even finding the laborious task of financial planning pretty good (the trick is stay in the office…once you leave it’s amazing how easily distractions come your way!).


I like the fact the buck stops with me but balanced with that is the opportunity to really make my mark here and put my ideas into practice.


And every so often one of my team will do something which is so wonderfully random that I can’t help but break into a broad grin – like turning up at my desk with corn on the cob from the small cluster of maize which has sprung up in our compound.


Occasionally however one of them says something just so out of the blue it’s all I can do to stop myself cracking a rib as I try to stifle my laughter…yesterday for example my training officer told me not to be alarmed if I saw 2 goats being slaughtered in the yard. It was perfectly fine, it’s just to celebrate the end of the training course!


Like it’s the most natural thing in the world to have goats’ lives being ended within spitting distance of your desk!


Not to leave me out of proceedings I was duly presented with my huge helping of goat and spaghetti the very next day!



Pops – you wouldn’t like it…smells like goat!


Once or twice the sheer scale of what we are doing has crept into my mind. All this going on right now is all my responsibility. All these people want answers from me, solutions to their problems, help, money…arghhhhhhhh….when it happens I generally stand up, walk away from the corner of desk space I have, wander outside and have a wee look around….then smile and relax again.


 So as I spend the evening reading by torchlight during yet another powercut (I’ve never had so many candlielit suppers…sadly not the romantic type!) or trying to guess when shops might be open or closed (apparently sat afternoons are not for working!)…it feels just like one big adventure…


 And I am LOVING it!



  1. Ankles said,

    April 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I’m so proud of you…and miss you every day my dear!x

  2. July 4, 2009 at 5:05 am

    […] for me – those days of Once I was afraid… seem like a distant […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s