For my study Programme, I have
been to the flood-prone riverbanks of Bangladesh where I lived amongst some of
the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country. At night, my translator
(and dear friend) and me were not allowed to leave the house. Supposedly
violent groups posed a security risk. I travelled with overcrowded poorly maintained boats, which were
similar to the boats that were
regularly in the news because
they sank. Later, during my second internship in
South-Kivu, DRC, I was not allowed to go out in the dark, due to risk related
to robbery and murder due to local gangs. I traveled on motorcycles without
helmets in territories supposedly controlled by (non-active) rebel groups. For both internships with a total duration of
over 7 months, I came back unharmed and I have not even had food poisoning. While
both internships were a great experience, it makes you appreciate being in the
Netherlands, where such risks do not exist. Traffic is safe compared to the
crazy traffic in Dhaka. There are no tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue or
freaky parasites and flesh eating bacteria. In comparison to the political
demonstrations in both Congo and Bangladesh, demonstrations at ‘Malieveld’ are
peaceful and safe to participate in.
After being gone twice, working and living in the Netherlands sounds
like a blessing. Or isn’t it?
I am in the Oxfam Office for about 4 weeks now and I
have been confronted with 2 terrorism treaths, a tunnel fire, two suicides and
at least 3 technical defects.
Who is this crazy guy you wonder? Facing such
challenges and risky situations in a safe country like the Netherlands. Some
kind of man with a dead wish or member of a black ops team? No, I am a normal
Oxfam Novib intern.
But maybe more importantly, I am a traveler that takes the
train to work every day. In order to get
to the office, I need to travel with the train from Rotterdam Centraal to Den
Haag central and surviving this and arriving on time isn’t as obvious as one would think. After this 30
minute during ordeal I am not at the office yet! Cycling in Den Haag is unlike
anywhere else! I have been cycling my whole life in all kinds of villages and cities,
but cycling in the political capital of this country is crazy dangerous! Pedestrians
crossing the streets at random places without looking if traffic arrives.
Cyclists crossing intersections without even consulting traffic lights and
cars, trams and buses that do not consider stopping for cyclists. It is only
10 minutes biking I arrive to the Oxfam office but I usually arrive pumped with
adrenaline. And while being stuck in the revolving doors, I realize that, after having endured all this, I am still on time in the office. #FirstWorldProblems
Mark van der Boon
is currently interning with the Impact Measurement Team at Oxfam Novib. A
student of Wageningen University, he is working on adapting the WCP Impact tool
to Humanitarian Settings. An avid rugby player still figuring out how to ‘adult’
(not unlike the rest of us),he shares
a strange affection for conflict –settings which give him an adrenalin rush like no other.
(Read DRC Congo). While we are unsure whether to be concerned about this or
not, his ability to entertain us with a range of quirky facts and strange
stories has kept us distracted so far.