I joined HALO in late 2014, working in Laos which has been a wonderful programme to work in. It is still new enough that I am able to help shape the direction of the programme, but established enough that every day isn’t frantic trying to get things done. We’re located right on the Vietnamese border, and the work is aimed at finding and removing all the UXO left over from the Vietnam War.
As an Operations Support Officer, my main job is ensuring that the teams in the field have all the tools they need to do their work. I primarily focus on donor relations, and government and partner liaison, ensuring that we fulfil all our contractual obligations and preparing whatever reports and tenders are required. Some days this means wading through statistics, conducting data analysis or writing reports, but other days I’m out in the land rover out visiting a survey team in the field or perhaps conducting an interview with a rural village chief. Recently I’ve been working with our GIS/IM department on introducing digital tablets for our teams to send their reports from the field.
Laos works on a cycle, meaning that we work about 24/25 days on, before taking the last days of the month off. Sometimes around day 17 or so this can be a bit tiring, but generally nothing a cold beer in the evening can’t solve with the rest of the team, especially when it’s hitting 38°C!
I love the versatility of the jobs in HALO. One of the absolute best things about my job is that there is no ‘average day’. Every day I get to do and learn new things. There is a lot to do and we work hard, but I love the energy and passion that everyone has for their jobs. I’ve learned so many new skills with HALO, such as how to conduct Explosive Ordnance Disposal tasks, off road driving, providing trauma medic support, to simply learning what a pivot table in excel actually does!
Overall HALO has been an amazing adventure so far, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.