HARD Response

On August 4, 2011, I received the call that I was deploying to Kenya as part of the HARD response. This would be my official deployment with the GRRT. The Horn of Africa Response – Drought, HARD as it became known, was based out of Nairobi, Kenya. Having been on annual leave in Canada when I received the notice, I had to make a quick turnaround.

Flying back to Costa Rica with this declaration on August 8 from Ottawa, I had one day to quickly re-kit myself and get back on a flight overseas. I arrived back in San Jose at 1600 on the 8 giving me a little over 30 hours to prepare for the journey. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a flight for August 10, the earliest available time would be on August 11 departing at 0730. It was actually good to get in the extra day to ensure I was fully prepared.

The Declaration

On August 6, the World Vision Partnership officially announced the Horn of Africa response:

“As expected, the Horn of Africa crisis is worsening by the day. UN and media reports point to a spreading famine across the entirety of southern Somalia.

Some 3.6 million people –mostly children — are in increasingly dire need of help, while famine conditions are forecasted to persist to the end of this year.  Overall, some 12.4 million people are currently facing a combined onslaught of drought, hunger, displacement and armed violence…

… am therefore declaring a Global Partnership Response to this emergency, in agreement with our Declaration Decision Group (DDG) –so that global response capacity can be added to the capacity of national response teams. 

The case for this declaration is very clear.  According to US-AID, more than 29,000 children under the age of five have died inside southern Somalia in the past 90 days as a result of this drought, the country’s worst in 60 years. The UN reports that 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, while 3.2 million Somalis out of a population of roughly 7.5 million are in need of immediate lifesaving assistance.”

The Journey

The morning of August 11 came rather quickly, and having to be at the airport 3 hours before departure meant arriving by 0430. My trip took me via Miami to London and onwards to Nairobi, some 9,700 miles.

After a long 6 hour layover in Miami, I departed for London’s Heathrow at 1830 arriving the next day 0810. I had a shorter layover before traveling onwards to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport arriving at 2100 on August 12.

I was picked up at the airport by a World Vision driver who took me to the lovely 5 star Sankara Hotel, where I would be for the first couple of nights in Nairobi. Eventually, I would end up in an apartment fairly close to the WV office in the Westlands area of Nairobi. World Vision had two offices in Nairobi, the National and the Regional office, the latter being in the Karen area.

Initial Tasking’s

Prior to my departure, Perry made it clear that he would make me the “Traveling Man” on my arrival. The initial task (next story) would be to put in place a security assessment for Dolo Ado, Ethiopia and Dolo, Somalia. This was to expedite the startup of operations for the refugee camp in Ethiopia and the transit point on the Somalia border.

WV was initiating programming in Dolo with the team conducting cross border operations.  Due to security reasons, we could not stay overnight in Somalia. That was the rough outline of the direction.

This is where I would first meet Tristan. He was the Program Manager and Security Focal Point for Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs, World Vision Australia. Over the years, I would work with Tristen in other capacities. I was able watch him develop into a security professional in terms of training and security risk management.

Visitor Brief – Training Requirements

Prior to departing for Ethiopia, we were growing in numbers. This meant numerous trips were being planned and travel protocols were required to keep track of staff movement.  For all currently planned trips and for all future trips, the following protocols were developed:

  1. Any planned travel requires the approval of your manager
  2. There must be an approved budget for the cost.
  3. Admin must be copied on all travel plans.
  4. If travel occurred in high risk rated security areas, security guidance was provided. HEAT became mandatory for all travel to high risk rated areas.

Over the course of the first month, this system became more refined. But before any refining was performed, Addis Ababa was calling. On August 14 at 2230 I boarded a flight, only 49 hours after arriving in Nairobi.

Next Story – Ethiopia


  1. It breaks my heart to hear of yet another place where children are unsafe. I am not sure exactly what you do but I hope it has to do with helping those kids in the camps.

  2. It is a comfort knowing that people continue to travel around the world to help out where needed. It would be great to see more people would become involved.

  3. I love the idea of traveling to different places for work, but it made me so sad to read that that many children have died due to a drought. We are so fortunate and sometimes we don’t recognize it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. It’s been a while since I read your stuff, but I find it interesting to see where you go next. Thanks for sharing!

  5. What an exciting post. I can’t believe you left within 3 hours. And the distance you traveled. Such a wonderful thing you are a part of. Good luck.

    1. Thank you. I have learned to always keep bags packed for deployments to be able to hit the road quickly. Usually the administration takes longer, getting flights etc.

  6. It’s sad to hear about the dire situation out there. It’s unfortunate that with all the technology and modernization happening around the world there are still so many undeveloped places in Kenya. Thanks to people like you who are always ready to lend a helping hand. I felt like reading an action/ adventure novel by the way. ☺️

    1. It has gotten better in Kenya since that time. Now the issues are around Syria, where I currently am working. The innocent are always the ones to suffer.

  7. Wow, you , have a very interesting and adventurous job, yet it seems to be very exciting. Your journey has captured me and I am awaiting to hear more. Take care!

  8. How interesting! Definitely not the-man-on-the-street type of travel! Looking forward to the next story

  9. It’s nice to see people who travel the world to help out those in need. It sounds like you had an interesting experience and I’m definitely looking forward to more posts about your travels!

  10. Miami is a good place to have a long layover. 🙂 That’s quite the flight to get to Kenya. I don’t mind long flights though, because the destinations are so worth it, as was this one, I am sure.

  11. The situation going on over there is heartbreaking. Do you have a charity that you would recommend for those who want to try to help in some way?

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