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#171 The Environment

September 23, 2012

submitted by Susie

As EAWs travel around the world, visiting war- and natural disaster-torn country after country (and thus improving their field cred and getting those sought after stamps in their passports), they cannot help but be shocked by the environmental degradation that they witness.

These developing nation people just do not understand the importance of protecting the environment! Everywhere the EAW goes, in towns, villages and across the countryside, plastic bottles (invariable Coca-Cola) and plastic bags (probably filled with human faeces) litter the landscape.

Do these people not realize that it is, in fact, their country and that it’s being destroyed by their own behaviour!? It is the duty of the EAW to help the local people, starting with their agency’s own national staff, to understand that the environment is important, and must be protected. Thus the EAW can leave in 2 months time, knowing that not only has poverty in [insert country] been eradicated, but the locals now know about recycling and waste management so the environment will be safe from further harm. Hurrah for the EAW!

And so the EAW’s side mission begins…. As the EAW drives along through the desert or jungle, gazing contentedly out at the pristine scenery, her local colleague throws an empty soda bottle out of the window.

“Nooooo!!!!!” she cries, demanding the driver screech to a violent halt, nearly causing the car behind to crash, and leaving the entire convoy open to attack by the rebels. The EAW jumps out (dodging landmines) and retrieves the offending item, handing it back at her colleague with a frown as she chastises, “Mercy! You simply cannot treat your environment that way! Use the rubbish bag!!” Mercy nods and smiles apologetically, slightly bemused by the whole situation, “Of course, sorry, sorry,” she says. And the situation is rectified. Mercy now understands the EAW’s passion in this regard, realizes this is a key characteristic of being civilized, and certainly won’t disrespect Mother Nature again (in the presence of our EAW).

Once the team reaches the distribution site, the EAW supervises – giving advice and instructions (despite it being her first food distribution, she knows exactly how it should be done ‘as per the strategy document’). In between giving advice and reprimanding, the EAW finds time to pick up rubbish – plastic food bags and medical waste – whilst writing down items that she simply must add to the procurement list – particularly noting rubbish bags and sharps containers for those pesky syringes. Following the distribution, she debriefs with the staff, reiterating the point that when the agency does a food distribution, they must take all their rubbish with them and the distribution site must be left as pristine (or at least no worse off) than they found it.

At the end of the day, the convoy of large, 4wd vehicles, each using around 20 litres of fuel per day, continues its journey across [insert country]. Due to the long day in the field putting the world to rights, the EAW takes a well-earned and self-satisfied nap in the front seat. Next week, she gets on a plane, traveling thousands of miles to her home country for R&R, before setting off again on another mission. Fortunately, she’s in a frequent flyer scheme, so those air miles being clocked up are actually a positive, and she’s pretty sure that the airlines pay loads of environmental taxes and offset their carbon emissions… Don’t they?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Carol permalink
    September 24, 2012 11:57 am

    similar situation in Cambodia in which the boat we were on was doing really well in depositing all our empty beer cans into a bin liner, very impressed they were collecting them and not throwing them over the side of the boat. Unfortunately at the end of the ‘cruise’ they threw the whole lot into the Mekong river!

  2. September 24, 2012 11:28 pm

    The alternative is blending in and being like a local. Pretty soon you’re throwing cans of beer out the window with your driver.

    What’s even better, you’re supporting local industry! Some poor person walks along the road, collecting cans to take to a local metal smelter.

  3. Chrilinder permalink
    September 27, 2012 7:36 am

    My favorite quote on this went something like:
    EAW: Why did you throw that trash out of the window?
    NationalAW: Where does your trash go in the US?
    EAW: Trash dump.
    NAW: Which is usually in countryside somewhere, right? Well, we’re in the countryside now…

  4. September 27, 2012 8:58 am

    “Save the Children, Kill the Grandchildren” is always at the back of my mind when I head out on mission.

  5. September 28, 2012 10:58 am

    Wow… ABBA were EAWs in Britain? Who knew?

  6. October 9, 2012 1:41 am

    Unfortunately your gesture is a drop in the sea….however a good example shared ! I agree…and disagree with the above comments…hopefuly one day a business man will start a recycling company and people will be paid to collect rubbish….and the landscape will be great again….

  7. Sneaky permalink
    March 19, 2013 1:56 am

    ging against the flow here, but why the frig should I put my life on hold because I’m deployed? Therefore, I’ll only deploy to a country if I can sneak out on the weekend to hunt the local wildlife… preferably with a firearm, but a fishing rod if I’m in a bind. Jackals in Western Afghanistan, Ducks in Pakistan, and the less said about Kenya the better. Christ, put me in China and I’ll be eating panda in a fortnight. That tree hugging shit is for the birds and I get enough sanctimonious crap without the programmes ever present self appointed captain planet getting on my case too.

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