Rumble: Off to the Caribbean

Dear readers... I'm off with my three girls to the Caribbean. Will not post until we return around August 8th. We leave from the island of St.Martin with a 36 foot sailing yacht, and will see where the wind brings us.
To share the feeling of sailing in the Caribbean, read this short story. Was written on Union Island in the Grenadines, two years ago.
Or dream away with the picture above, taken on Anegada - British Virgin Islands, last year.

We are only half aware how lucky we are. I count my blessings.

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Rumble: Sailing for a Good Cause

I was in Brindisi a couple of weeks ago, just as the Brindisi-Corfu Regatta started. WFP entered with a boat in the race, raising money for the humanitarian cause. The boat was a MAXI80, same type they use in the America's Cup. They ending 4th in the Regatta and they raised over US$250,000.
I thought "Hmmm, imagine if we'd do the same in a Transatlantic Race, maybe we could raise more money and visibility..."
The owner of the MAXI80 was receptive to the idea, so at this moment, we're trying to put all pieces of the puzzle together. How to get the boat to the Canary Islands, for the start of the ARC2007 - the same transatlantic regatta I participated in last year (see these posts), how to get 10 professional crew working with 10 WFP staff totalling a crew of 20 on the boat... How do we find sufficient sponsors. How can we get the boat back to Europe? Minor stuff.
Will be exciting...

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Rumble: Sailing in Belgium Summer Weather

I am on holiday, home in Belgium at the moment. We are soon off for our annual holiday, this time to St.Martin in the Caribbean where we are chartering a boat to sail around for almost a month. This week I needed to practice some of the skills I need to skipper a boat..
Unfortunately when we set out for our practice course in Nieuwpoort on the Belgian coast, the weather did not cooperate. Wind, rain, hail, lightning and thunder, we had it all!! Look at the picture, how Lana and Hannah were dressed. You would not say it was summer, right?
The good thing was, for one hour, in the afternoon, the skies opened up, and the beauty of sailing comes out in its best.. I love the Belgian coast. (tried to capture it in this short story)

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Rumble: Food Aid. A Different Kind.

Thanks to Princess J. for the link!

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Rumble: Make a Difference with Paypal

Do you have Paypal? Here is a way to feed 5 children for one day,
with just one dollar using Paypal.

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Rumble: Visiting UNICEF in Copenhagen

Talking about "the machine behind the field humanitarian work", in my previous post. Two weeks ago, I flew to Copenhagen to visit the large Unicef base there, their main logistics and procurement support centre.
It was a different setting from our logistics base in Brindisi.. And I am not just talking about the weather (which was cold and rainy, compared to the 40 degrees in Brindisi!). These were purpose-built offices and warehouses. The offices were really nice, with a lot of wood, light and plants. Those Scandinavians sure have an appealing style in interior decorations.
The similarity was there though, as their offices and warehouses are located in the harbour area. (Is it not a dream to have an office looking over the water and the sailboats?).

Apart from the office complex, they have huge warehouses, and that was where our main purpose of our mission was: to learn of how they organise their stocks, the systems they use to manage the warehouses... All part of finding a way to work closely with them, learning from their experience, and share resources. Streamlining can only benefit both of our organisations, and our common work in the field!

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Rumble: Brindisi

I was in Brindisi last week, for work. Brindisi is in the southeastern tip of Italy. It was an important natural harbour since way back, even during Roman times. They actually built a Roman highway (the Apia Antica), all the way from Rome to Brindisi. Nowadays, there is a bit of marine trade, several yacht harbours, a station for the Italian Navy and Coastguard, and a gateway for ferries to Montenegro, Albania and Greece.

So when you walk around town, you see a lot of shops where they sell tickets to the Eastbound ferries, or for cruise ships passing by. The 'passing' tourists never stay very long, apart from an overnight in town before or after a ferry trip... It is also much to my surprise so many of the local people speak English. Very contrary to Rome, which is much more of a megapolis.. Weird..

Brindisi feels very different from Rome. Much more 'southern', with a bit of a 'Balkans' flair to it. On the left you see one of the main promenades early in the morning.. One morning, the promenade was blocked by a garbage truck.. The drivers were having coffee and left the truck in the middle of the street... Everything goes at an easy pace here...

Brindisi is an important logistics base for the UN. It is the main support base for the UN Peace Keepers, where they hold their worldwide stocks of logistics equipment, tools, etc... For us -we are very different and separate from the UN Peace Keeping Operations- it is one of the five humanitarian response bases we have across the globe, next to Ghana, Panama, Dubai and Malaysia, where we procure, store, manage, and ship logistics support materials on behalf of several UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations. And that is where my current project comes in. So you see that humanitarian work comes in many types and flavours (see also this post)... You have the aspect of Enrico and Cyprien, in the stories and pictures from the past days... But you also have the part with the 'machine behind' the field work. And for us, it is mainly the logistics support, the emergency support, the preparedness to react in no matter what humanitarian crisis, anywhere in the world, at any time..

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Rumble: The Nile in Bor

Another picture Enrico sent. The Nile in all its forms of 'giving': People taking a bath, washing clothes, picking up water, and in the background a barge taking people, cars, trucks and cattle across, a symbol of the Nile as a vein of the trade.
Aaron published
an amazing set of pictures with the sun setting over the Nile in South Sudan. Now we're on the subject of Aaron, have a look at his blog as a whole. Nice stories. Wonderful pictures grasping the feel for Southern Sudan.

Picture courtesy Enrico Pausilli, Ulrik Pedersen

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Rumble: The Field

Some pictures from Bor in South Sudan. Once of those places where the real humanitarian work is done....

I always thought of South Sudan as very dry. Apparently not so. Bor seems to be green and lush. For six months per year, during the rainy season, it is cut off from the world.

The Nile, the main source of water and fertility in Southern Sudan.

Bor, Main Street.

Bor, Main Street, but this time with a herd of cattle passing through. Cattle is the most precious posession for the local people. Stealing a cow is the same as declaring a local war. Cattle is a source of income, but a status symbol. People's wealth is measured by the number of cattle they have. Just look at the top picture. A gem!

This is still the dry season. Look what half an hour or rain does to the road. Can you imagine the rainy season? This would not be a road anymore, but a stream.

The same half an hour of rain.. Look how high the water comes, on the side of the road. Half an hour. In the rainy season, it would rain for hours every day... Just imagine..

Pictures courtesy Enrico Pausilli and Ulrik Pedersen, both stationed in South Sudan

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Rumble: Another Friend

I interviewed Enrico for a post in FITTEST, our technical intervention team, back in 1998. He joined us in Uganda shortly after that. Enrico worked with us on the forefront of humanitarian emergencies ever since then. On the picture above, you see him (on the right) on Bukova Glava, one of the mountains in Kosovo where we installed radio equipment. (The story of Bukova Glava is the next short story to be released.)

Enrico has just recently been reassigned to Bor. Yep. Bor... I did not know where it was neither, but it is in South Sudan. And this is where his story links with the one of Cyprien, I posted before: both are now in South Sudan. Enrico gave me some excellent pictures, I will post in the coming days. From the deep bush in Africa, where the real humanitarian work happens.

Stay tuned.

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