["I told her about my relationship with Jen and that the distance had only strengthened it"]
Friday June 17 Singapore Airport
8:30 am Paris time or 3:30 pm in Singapore or 6:30 pm Sydney: I am now in transit I will be starting off on my final leg home pretty soon. I only got to tell you about when I was in Freetown and haven't told you about leaving Freetown and my debriefing.
I left Freetown at 10:30 am on Wednesday and flew by Helicopter to the airport and then we flew to Conakry. We finally arrived there at about 2:00pm and then had to wait 6 hours for the flight to Paris. It was a pretty long flight as we stopped in some countries in West Africa on the way which I hadn't actually heard of. So in the end I didn't get much sleep so was happy to have a strong coffee in Bastille with Ricardo and Petra before the debriefing.
Petra, Ricardo and I got into the office at 9:00am to get our debriefing schedules. At 10:00am I got my briefing schedule from Dominique when she arrived in the office. It was really great to catch up with her and have a good chat after meeting her in Sierra Leone. She gave me my ticket home and she said she had been lucky enough to get me a flight for that evening, she guessed I was pretty anxious to get back home to my girlfriend (or fiancée as Jen likes to be called). She also said that she had seen my evaluations that were sent yesterday and that if I was interested there were a few logistic coordinator positions available, but she said to me to take my time and have a break but not to long as these jobs don't come along everyday and there is a lot of interest in them. The jobs start in the next few weeks.
At 10:07am after leaving Dominique's office I realised I was late for my first appointment with the peer support counsellor. At 10:10am I found my way to Sandrine's room. She was really nice and was currently working as a stagier or volunteer worker in the procurement department and helped get cargo ready for people to take as hand luggage to the missions. Although she had not been to the field she seemed to know a lot about it through her counselling work. She kept on apologising and saying "sorry but my English is not so good" but I thought it was fine and we managed to have a good chat. She was a bit unhappy with her job and wanted to do more interesting things in the office. She was studying political science and thought she could do more in the context unit or the humanitarian affairs unit. She said that the peer support counselling was pretty intense. She spoke to this guy Pierre yesterday who had just come back from Darfur and he was really screwed up and a bit unstable, I am glad I'm not crazy like him, I hope I don't bump into him in the office. She was also having trouble with her boyfriend who had found a holiday job on the French Riviera teaching windsurfing and she thought he would have an affair while he was down there. I told her about my relationship with Jen and that the distance had only strengthened it. I told her that I am sure it will work out fine for her.
At 11:00 am I went up to the logistics department to talk to Walter Jensen head of the logistics department and the advisor for Sierra Leone. Unfortunately he was not there as a lot of staff have Friday off in Paris due to the 35 hour week. I then went down to finance but it was the same story most people were already gone as it is also a half day in the office and the office closes at 12:00pm. So it was a bit of pity really I had a lot of things I wanted to discuss with logistics and finance but I guess I can put it in my handover report.
I had lunch with Petra and Ricardo, they will stay around for the weekend and then have the rest of their debriefing on Monday. They plan to go and live in Amsterdam for a while and will look at getting another mission together maybe with another organisation. They are still pretty angry about how they have been treated. Well I said good bye and left for the airport after lunch. I will miss them, I guess, we had some good times together I didn't expect to be this sad to say goodbye to them.
Well I am only about 9 hours away from home. There are so many thoughts running through my head at the moment. I know the Dave sitting in Singapore is not the same Dave that left South Sydney 9 months ago bound for war torn (well previously war torn as I found out later) Sierra Leone. I guess I've grown in so many ways. I've found strengths in me that I never knew existed. I've had to be resourceful and show courage in the face of adversity to help poor people. I guess that's what development and humanitarian aid is all about helping poor people because a lot of times they can't help themselves. When I look in the mirror do I recognise myself, sure I do but I'm a bit older and wiser now, a little bit more sure of myself and a little bit more worldly. I've had some great times in Sierra Leone and some bad times and some times that weren't so bad or so good and some that were a little worse than not so bad as well as some that were a bit better than not so good. Me and Petra had some great times together in Freetown when I was acting Logistics Coordinator and before Ricardo came.
There are only two or three entries left in my web diary now. The space allocated by the Wollongong Courier is running out. So what does the future hold, well its a bit up in the air at the moment but I will let you know in the next two weeks.
Dave (me) Claudia