My work with Save the Children has taken me to a number of countries in Africa, and I often remind myself how lucky I am to meet so many people, experience different cultures and see some fantastic places.
I have just returned from Libya and feel truly privileged to have spent time in a country that is going through such an exciting period of change.
I was based in Tripoli where I was helping build the capacity of a fantastic team.
It has been one of the most interesting places to work. Logistically the challenges are quite different. In Tripoli we had electricity, running water, nice houses, internet… facilities that just don’t exist in many of the places where we work.
But until March 2011, when Save the Children and other INGOs arrived to provide assistance during the revolution, there were no NGOs working in Libya.
This means that no one understands the concept of an NGO – who we are and what we do.
Suppliers in particular are baffled by the way we work, documentation is a mystery.
As a nation they are very loyal people and commitments are made by their ‘word’. Once you have someone’s word they will deliver and there is no need for paperwork.
What is ‘the new way’?
The government is also trying to re-establish itself so there is a lot of confusion surrounding rules; there is the old way, but what is the new way?
As an outsider, it appeared to me no one really knows the new way and so rules change on a daily basis, in particular rules regarding visas and customs!
Save the Children’s work in Libya focuses on Child Protection and Education.
Libya’s young people have been on a rollercoaster journey throughout 2011, experiencing the highs and lows of a revolution: overthrowing a dictator, continual fighting and hardship.
Systems will take time to rebuild and there is a huge need for support for teenagers and children.
Sarah Boland, Save the Children Logistics Emergency Response Personnel