Remembrance Day for remarkable humans

On Monday, just after 11 in the morning I paused for thought. Remembrance Day marks the moment World War One ended, at 11 o’clock on 11th November, 1918, after some sixteen million people had lost their lives. In terms of sheer volume of slaughter, the Second World War was even deadlier: up to 56 million, […]

Teranga ! Why Senegal is super, and sadly not for me #renowned-she-warrior

For those of you who’ve never logged on here before (Welcome 😎 ) I’m a conflict nerd, by which I mean a professional humanitarian peacebuilder. I’m sort of based in the UK, and have spent the last six years working in Central and West Africa, specialising in managing complex peacebuilding projects for international Non-Government Organisations […]

So what would you do with €700 million?

I love cathedrals: the spaciousness, the stone flag floors and rising columns, archways and sensual stained glass. The echoes of history, walls soaked in hymns and chanting, the overall aura of something sacred that often makes me want to kneel and pray in gratitude for everything I have. Whenever I go to a new city, […]

The Better Story, and why Samos Volunteers needs people like you

A refugee camp, especially if you’ve never been to one, probably sounds like hell on earth: crammed with unwashed, desperate people living in flimsy, flapping tents, surrounded by insufficient, filthy toilets, human waste, mounds of stinking rubbish, rats and snakes, while forced to wait in long rowdy queues for barely edible food packages. The whole […]

Self-build for refugees, a sobering tale of desperate innovation

I’m in touch with a young man in prison: he has been living in the refugee camp on the Isle of Samos (see photo). He took part, in fact led, some of the recent demonstrations by camp residents against the appalling conditions in the camp. At the same time, he lost his second appeal for […]

Shreds of human sense: refugees and us on the Greek isle of Samos

I love my family, but most of the best Christmases I’ve ever spent have been without them, usually overseas, doing something I never expected to be doing. You get my drift. Right now I’m working with Samos Volunteers, on the island of Samos, that lies close to the coast of Turkey. Which explains the number […]

Why Samos is still the real story of 2018

After a funky few months based in Cambridge (for those who’ve never been it’s very middle England, full of bicycles  and wealthy looking students) I am off on my travels again: this time to Samos, an Aegean island in southern Greece, separated from Turkey by the mile-wide strait of Mycale. The local population of Samos […]

Five more years in Mali……and why I’m proud to self-identify as a sheepdog

Recently, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta won his second term as President of Mali, apparently: I say apparently as the opposition, led by ex-finance Minister Soumaila Cisse, refused to accept the results, alleging serious fraud and intimidation of voters. His allegations were rejected by Mali’s Constitutional Court, though he has not accepted their ruling. Those of you […]

Au Revoir Mali, and why empty rhetoric is fueling vicious conflicts across the Sahel

After almost two years based in Bamako (hot, dirty, compelling, terrible traffic) I have just left Mali and am temporarily based in the most English city that ever was…… answers on a tacky email postcard please as I haven’t had the time nor the heart to subscribe to Instagram. Living and working in Mali was […]

55 shades of heat….. in Mali

Heat does amazing things to your body and brain. As Bamako basks (or boils) at over 41°c degrees (that’s 106 fahrenheit for the rest of us) I now think of cold liquids (water, beer, water, water, gin, water) all the time. Sweat pearls down my neck all day, my pee is almost orange and when […]