Following 11 years as a British Army Ammunition Technician and Ministry of Defence Explosive Safety Advisor, then a further two years as a civilian bomb disposal instructor to the Afghan National Security Forces in Kabul, it was time for a change. In my mind, I had seen my share of conflict zones and troubled countries. It was time to go home and find a quiet job in a quiet company. It was at this point I discovered that The HALO Trust was looking for a new member of staff, in Africa.
Having had no experience with Non-Government Organisations I was eager to learn about HALO’s mission and core values. I applied for the position of Technical Officer on the Ivory Coast programme in West Africa. Having experience in weapons and ammunition storage and management, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and large-scale demolitions, this job offered everything I knew and enjoyed.
In December 2014 I deployed to Ivory Coast and shortly after helped to conclude the ongoing bulk demolitions of air launched S5-K rockets and OFAB 250-270 high explosive air dropped bombs. In May 2015, after five months as Technical Officer, I had conducted further bulk demolitions, responded to ammunition incidents, advised during the construction of armouries and ammunition stores, and assisted in the daily management of the programme. It was at this point that I was offered the position of Programme Manager.
After a visit to the long established HALO programme in Cambodia I had been introduced to the management side of the organization and prepared to embark on my own journey back in Ivory Coast. I currently enjoy providing liaison to donors, international Embassies and national Government entities, where I am able to inform and promote HALO and our work – yet I can still ‘get my hands dirty’ during bulk demolitions.
It isn’t always easy to work for an organization such as HALO. I spend most of my time away from home and in countries where life can be a far stretch from that which I’m used to. Work comes quickly and often, making for fast-paced days with pressure to meet deadlines. But that is why I enjoy it. Working for HALO is a chance to contribute to a long-standing and worthwhile cause whilst developing my own professional skills. The opportunity to travel and work within different cultures, carrying their own difficulties and successes, means that I will always have a place to be and a job to do.