Showing posts from July, 2007

Battlefields and Flatlands

Normandy and the famous 1944 invasions of beaches of Utah, Omaha, gold, Juno and Sword were up on my list of locations to see in Europe one day. I therefore bought myself a second hand bike, caught the train out of Paris for a little near starting point and then started exploring. It was great to see some of 'Atlantic wall' and many memorials and cemeteries, though on the whole I was slightly surprised at how little remains today of the largest invasion operations in history. The weather was the only thing that did not cooperate with my outdoor tour and I became very disappointed at the northern hemisphere 'summer'.
With the success of this first trip under my belt I jumped on a bus north to the flat lands of the Netherlands for a look at the coast, some remnant forest area and of course the capital Amsterdam. It was very amusing to turn up and be somewhat surprised to learn that cannabis is in fact still illegal, they simply have a bland eye policy which has some very…

Third World to the First World

With the finish of my extra bonus mission in Darfur it was time to return to the MSF headquarters in Paris for debriefings and other finishing up items. I landed back in time to catch the last day of the famous Paris Air Show, which provided me with the maximum culture shock - the undeveloped open desert of Sudan with its mud huts contrasting with the huge new airliners, private jets and shiny military jet fighters.

Even looking back on my experiences at this stage I can see that I have learnt more than I expected about the complexities of trying to help other countries deal with extreme poverty. While it is easy to see that the efforts of the last months have made a big difference to the people we helped directly, it is more difficult to pin down whether this effort was a wonderful small part of a worthwhile larger goal, or simply a small band aid on a hopeless situation.

I have yet to decide for sure whether to do another mission or not, or whether perhaps to try out another organisat…