Thursday, September 14, 2006

Calm with a chance of volatility

I just got told off for not blogging and leaving you all to wonder if anything has happened to us. So sorry! We’re fine. Or, as fine as you can be in a situation where you’re preparing for the worst.

I’m sitting at my desk this morning drinking coffee. I’ve just threatened to fire someone, yelled at WFP for not booking people on a flight, and am now sitting here looking at a ‘threat/action matrix’, ‘individual evacuation responsibilities’, ‘overall security plans’, and ‘sector contingency’ spreadsheets. And, all before my first cup of coffee. (For those of you who know me and how I function in the morning you’ll know what a feat this all is.)

It’s really a strange time here right now. The days seem to fluctuate between the normal and terribly tense. There might be two days where everything is fine and we’re driving around the streets, going about our business. People wave, we wave back. The next day we’re in lockdown behind reinforced gates and barbed wire. And I wonder if it’s those same happy people who were on the streets before now chucking bricks over the walls.

As I’m sure you’ve heard our fate is somewhat unclear at the moment. Aid workers continue being attacked, troops keep moving in, the AU will most likely leave, and the UN can’t get in – until January at the earliest, if they come at all. The security vacuum that everyone feared is nearly upon us. There are battles already waging to the North; there was a massive breach of the peace agreement in an attack in the South; bandits on the roads here; reports of attacks there. The best way to describe the feeling is like watching a weather report. We go to security meetings and the guy giving the briefing stands in front of a huge map like a weatherman and points out the trouble spots – and there are many. He finishes with the obvious that here it is relatively calm with the prospect of volatility. Sunshine with a chance of showers. But it cannot last forever. Weather moves; so does war.

One of my favourite lines from my favourite book, The Brothers Karamazov, is in a scene where a mother who is worried about her son who is off in the war comes to a priest with her concerns. He looks at her and says, ‘Don’t fear anything, ever.’

I like that. Even if it is easier said than done. There is simply no point in worrying about what might happen - because if it does we are prepared for it and if it does not then we have been needlessly fearful. To be honest, I am not really afraid for myself. I knew what I was getting into and in this type of work you accept the risks at the outset. Where the fear gets to me is in the responsibility. To accept that we are making decisions - or will need to make decisions - that will potentially mean life and death to others is a harder pill to swallow.


kate said...

God bless you, my sister. Thinking about you.

Erin said...

Thanks for letting us know! Glad you are calm and focused.