Expect the unexpected

Life has taken some unexpected turns over the past few months. It already showed me that ‘There’s life after Vladivostok‘: that there’s a place for me to take off my boots and call home – a wonderful little piece of paradise in the Spanish ‘sierra de Peñamayor’. I’ve spent the past few weeks turning a secluded mountain cabin into my home, loving each and every minute of it. But now my bags are packed again…

Returning to the field

As if having a home base after more than 3 years of nomadic life on and off the road wasn’t enough, another unexpected development took place. At the exact moment when I realized that I reached the point of travel saturation (at least for a little while) a job opportunity came up. Not just a job but a great challenge, seamlessly fitting with my previous work experience and studies: I was offered and took on the opportunity to set up a landmine victim assistance program for a Swiss demining organization (FSD). First of all in one of the projects in Afghanistan, along the southern Tajik border.

Little did I know

Only a few months ago I drove my motorbike all the way along the Tajik-Afghan border, being both amazed by the natural beauty and intrigued by the remoteness of ‘the other side’. So close by, yet so inaccessible with the Panj river distinguishing one country from the other, and political situations determining the differences in life for people on both sides of the water. Little did I know, that this would be my next workplace! The Afghan Darwaz area is extremely secluded: the mountain range blocking almost all movement to and from central Afghanistan on one side, while large amounts of landmines remaining from Soviet times restricting mobility on the other side. FSD has been working for years to clear the land and restore the already scarce life opportunities for the people living in the area. But there have been many landmine accidents in the past – killing our severely injuring men, women, boys, girls and their livestock – and until the last explosives are found and destroyed, they will remain a daily threat. My task now is to investigate the needs of the existing and possible future landmine victims, and trying anything possible to facilitate restoring a life in dignity: ensuring availability of and access to rehabilitation services, prostheses and mobility devices; exploring livelihood possibilities; enabling children to go to school. Victim assistance is not an easy job, and especially in remote areas like the Badahkshan region there’ll be great obstacles to tackle. I know there’s only so little I can do – but it’s something. It’s my way of feeding back into the cycle of humanity – from which I received so much throughout the years of traveling. I’ll be working alongside people that deserve the greatest respect of all: demining teams who clearing the land step by step, bit by bit, providing ground to live life again. Ready for it – let’s go!

 

10 thoughts on “Expect the unexpected

  • October 4, 2019 at 16:00
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    Good luck Lobke, on the next phase of your life. You are one of my favourite human beings.
    XX

    Reply
    • October 4, 2019 at 16:17
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      Thanks Amanda, that is so sweet. Looking forward to meet again, when I return to Spain!

      Reply
  • October 5, 2019 at 09:30
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    Wow, dat is een prachtige uitdaging. Ik vond de grens met Afghanistan fascinerend. Zwaaiende mensen maar geen idee wat er speelt aan de andere kant van de rivier. Aan de Tadzjiekse kant 2x een auto gezien van een UN organisatie die iets met deminen doet, maar verder niets gemerkt. Blijf schrijven! Ben zo benieuwd wat je aantreft. Mooi dat je iets kunt bijdragen. Succes. Groet, Marijke

    Reply
  • October 5, 2019 at 10:48
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    Hi Lobke, I wish you all the best on your way. Every time I read your blog, a big smile is upon my face. You are one of the bravest and strongest people I have met.
    Four weeks ago I met a guy at a gas station in Lübeck, and he tells me, because of my baggage, about a woman on her motorbike he was talking to, two years ago. She was on her way to Wladiwostok…..
    Take good care

    Uwe

    Reply
    • October 5, 2019 at 21:53
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      Hi Uwe, what a nice message – thanks! Do your know the name of the guy you spoke to? Or, bike? Funny, what a small world. I know I’m not the only one who went to Vladivostok on the bike – buy something tells me that the guy was talking about me 🤣🤣

      Reply
      • October 5, 2019 at 22:57
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        No Lobke, I don’t know the guys name, it was just a little talk at an cold, rainy evening, while drinking a hot chocolate. He looks turkish, had a car, and of course it was you, he was talking about… 😀
        Yes it´s a small world…
        May our paths always be navigated by the heart to preserve this wonderful planet as a living and lovable place.
        Did you receive my mail with the contact datas of mine?
        If not, contact me in” uweversum.com “

        Reply
  • October 5, 2019 at 10:48
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    Hi Lobke, I wish you all the best on your way. Every time I read your blog, a big smile is upon my face. You are one of the bravest and strongest people I have met.
    Four weeks ago I met a guy at a gas station in Lübeck, and he tells me, because of my baggage, about a woman on her motorbike he was talking to, two years ago. She was on her way to Wladiwostok…..
    Take good care

    Uwe

    Reply
  • October 16, 2019 at 22:28
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    Hoi Lobke,

    Wat een blog weer Lob… Eindelijk zelf weer eens de tijd genomen om hem rustig te lezen, normaal hoor ik het allemaal via Claudje :o) Inderdaad ongelooflijk wat een ellende die mijnen ook nog jaren nadat een conflict al voorbij is ellende geven en diegene die ze geplaatst hebben nemen geen enkele verantwoordelijkheid om ze op te ruimen. Net zoals Trump, is dit ook een “a disgrace to Humantity”.
    Nog Felicitaciones por tu hermosa casa en el sur!
    Cheerio,
    Karel

    Reply
    • October 17, 2019 at 06:40
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      Hola Karel!
      Leuk dat je weer meeleest 🙂 Er is nog het één en ander op te ruimen inderdaad. Stap voor stap.
      Ik kijk er naar uit om in alle rust en veiligheid met jullie bij te praten op de Spaanse Berg!
      Hopelijk komend jaar?
      Ciao amigo
      Lobke

      Reply

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