Sunday, December 24, 2006

Guards and Guns

As I mentioned before, when we moved from our old house, the international staff split into two separate houses, just a block away from each other. Nathan is at the other house, so we take turns going back and forth to feed our Battlestar Galactica addiction. Tonight it was my turn to walk over to his place. Of course, I’m not allowed to walk even a block by myself, so I had to wait for one of the drivers to escort me. I do, however, absolutely refuse to drive the teensy distance, so we walked over together in the snow. It is really beautiful tonight – it’s been snowing since this morning so the ground is covered with fresh whiteness – a perfect Christmas Eve.

After watching a couple of hours of Battlestar (we just made it into season three) I bundled up for the walk home. As I walked to the gate, the guard asked me to wait for a minute and then he re-appeared, with his big gun in hand. We walked down the middle of the quiet, darkly snowy street, the guard several steps ahead of me, and I thought about how much money that gun cost and how many children it could have fed. I am an NGO employee. I work in humanitarian aid and development, why am I being escorted by a man with a gun? Does development work in an environment where we have to be protected by guns? Doesn’t that go against the idea of humanitarian assistance? There was a time when NGO workers were safe because of their role as 'helpers to the community', but I suppose medical workers and journalists were also considered “untouchable” once upon a time. The highest number of injuries and deaths to aid workers used to be car accidents – now it is targeted attacks.

This summer at the DC office I had an incredulous reaction when one of my colleagues told me that our Afghanistan office had armed guards. And now they are escorting me to and from my movie night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now sahar, they weren't protecting you as a whole. They were trying to protect your feet. You know how much they could make selling those to the black market?

Miss you bunches sis