We are a growing organisation and while we cannot expand to include every overseas deployment at the moment or we will stretch our resources too thin, I am sure we can fit those in South Sudan into our list.
It turns out there are only 19 personnel deployed as part of a United Nations Mission to South Sudan. There can be up to 25. There are Navy, Army and Air Force personnel on this deployment. The majority of personnel are located in the capital, Juba but there are quite a few , including my correspondent, who are spread through other regions within the country.
Working with those on a peace keeping mission is different to those on Operation Slipper as I can ask them more questions and they can share more information. Here is some of what I have learned, most of which has been provided by those currently deployed.
Essentially, peacekeepers monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict areas and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements.
Local Hardware Store - Bunnings eat your heart out!
Sunset in Wau
The ablutions which are basic, yet functional, are shared and by day's end are an unhygienic mess and as the door is often left open, filled with insects including mosquitos.
(What are you having for dinner tonight. One email I received from this lady told me she was off to make her dinner - I had better sign off as have to go and cook my dinner, maybe it will be noodles and instant mash potato and dehydrated peas....)
And this is some of the feedback from my new Army friend - I just have to say first that she is around the same age as me and boy! is she more adventurous. She has shared some of her weekly updates with me and I can't share them here as she is out on patrol without internet contact for the next two weeks on patrol so I cannot get her permission. Let's just say that the places she goes to are BASIC. She has shared that she takes her hand sanitizer with her everywhere and so far has not been ill. I have made her quilt myself and can I tell you I stitched some extra TLC into as I am filled with admiration for her!
The reality is that we have already sent several quilts to them. With mail being as unreliable as it is - 3-6 weeks depending on what flights are available and where you are in the country - I didn't want to wait till now to start sending so as quilts have become available I have directed them to those that will be coming home from South Sudan earlier than others.
So, there you have it - a new frontier.
I hope to expand into other "frontiers" as the year passes but not all at once and not in a hurry; only as I am convinced that we can cope with it.
Note - Before I get yelled at for including abbreviations without explanation I am trying to find out what they mean - will let you know when I do. :-)