Be Awesome

Look, our forefathers died for the "pursuit of happiness," okay? Not for the "sit around and wait of happiness." Now if you want, we can go to the same bar, drink the same beer, talk to the same people every day or you can lick the Liberty Bell. You can grab life by the crack and lick the crap out of it.
--Barney (HIMYM)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mt. Sinabung and End of Tour Reflections

On Feb. 1, 2014 the Mt. Sinabung volcano in Indonesia’s North Sumatra Province erupted, displacing approximately 31,400 people.  The US Ambassador to Indonesia declared a humanitarian disaster and USAID responded by providing relief through the procurement and distribution of emergency relief commodities for displaced communities.
This was my first award as a warranted Contracting Officer.  I was able to serve on the team that distributed the supplies to the displaced communities allowing me to be deeply engaged in the work and relationships USAID was building at a personal level.  The trip to the site began with a press ceremony event in conjunction with the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency where we presented the assistance offered by the United States and described the types of help USAID and our partners could provide.  The majority of the affected people came from rural, farming backgrounds and we talked with the children and their parents about how the eruptions have affected them in order to better understand their situations and living conditions.  We toured a nearby evacuation center, a large warehouse-like building, where over one hundred people were living with minimal facilities and only two toilets.  I was startled at the level of disruption and uncertainty the evacuees faced and I’m proud to have been a part of USAID’s effort in supporting those that were displaced during this trying time and then their eventual transition home.
Identifying their homes to Principal Officer Kathryn Crockart from the Medan Office
After the event, we spent a few minutes kicking around a soccer ball which we had brought to give to the children.  For this moment, there was normalcy in the middle of an abnormal situation and this gave me an opportunity to relate to the people with whom we were partnering.  I connected the impact and meaningful difference a small investment can have in the sectors where we work in Indonesia.

As I approach the end of my tour, I reflect on the influence I have had through my work and the connections I have made from the Mt. Sinabung experience and others.  My time in Indonesia has also greatly influenced me, most strongly through the people met, Indonesian and American, inside out outside the Mission, developing my confidence and ability to affect positive change.  Moving on to my next assignment, a conflict environment with very different conditions from Indonesia, I endeavor to continue representing and promoting the interests of our country and look forward to facing and addressing the new challenges to come.

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