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!