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1000 miles away from home

1000 miles away fro home

Though the mission is in Bertrand’s home country, he feels almost as foreign in the capital as Christine. In his hometown he is part of a big family that is deeply rooted in the community. He has three children with his wife who is now the head of the family for the first time. Bertrand often feels lonely and tries to call his family in the evenings. This can be difficult because of the bad mobile phone reception in the area. Nevertheless, he is glad to work for the mission as he and his family are financially dependent on his job, and he is eager to contribute to the reform processes in his country.

Additional information

It is often the case that local staff are also far away from home and that some of the described circumstances and changes that are valid for international mission members apply to their personal life as well.

Different cultures and traditions

It is also important for you to be aware that a different culture may exist in the respective country of deployment. Such differences can, for instance, be expressed through different roles of men and women. In many different societies, men are used to being leaders in the family and within society. Sometimes it is hard for them to realize that these traditional patterns of behavior are different within a mission. In a mission, it can of course be the case that a woman is the superior of a man, like in the case of Christine and Bertrand. As a result, it can happen that some men in the country of your deployment and maybe also within the mission try to compensate their feelings of powerlessness. Especially when they are confronted with women as superiors or more generally with women who work in a mission without being accompanied by a husband and/or a family, they may sometimes develop attitudes towards international women as a kind of property of any other man in her surroundings. This can be dangerous and degrading for women.

The influence of the mission on the cultural background of the respective country can be interesting to observe. Financial incentives to work for an international mission often lead national staff members to change their behavior in accordance with cultural expectations, including with respect to gender roles, quite different from their own.