I am in Cambodia. Phnom Penh. As always, it is cool, green and enchanting.
At short notice, I was asked to come here for meetings. Generally being summoned at short notice to travel across 10 countries on three planes is a sign of something up. Trouble. Trouble at Mill, as Cath would say.
It is trouble. My Board is worrying about falling security in Afghanistan. The fact that increasing numbers of agencies designating Afghanistan a non-family station. They have the organisation’s work in five countries to think about. They are trying to minimise vulnerabilities and variables.
No final decisions made, but a lot of talking. From my side, a few tears. I talked to Julie last night, and she commented: ‘You have given Afghanistan your best. And it has given you what it has too.’
I am taking that to mean it has given us a lot of grief. Afghanistan sure has plenty of that.
Tough men in Phnom Penh
Why do you bother sometimes? Why do you come here and move yourself and your family halfway around the world and leave all the nice, good, fun things, why leave a place where you are appreciated and come here? Why put your kids through chaos and risk a bullet to the chest and live in dust and crap and cold? Why don’t we go? Isn’t six years enough? If people can’t learn the basics of honesty and respect in that time, when they have heard and seen it from 20 different sources, then what does it take? Why the lies and irresponsiblity and continual exploitation? More, more, just a little more?
Don’t worry about trying to convince me of the worthiness of our work. I knowit, I know the answers. It’s just that the answers aren’t enough sometimes.
So. Another week passes. Salaries are paid. We drive here and there. We have meetings, read stories to the kids, brush our teeth. The electricity is on sometimes, and sometimes not. We are settling into routines.
I guess that is a good thing though at present we just feel a bit bored. The long slow business of being here has begun.