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'Peacekeeping is rewarding’

August - November 2019

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'Peacekeeping is rewarding’

– Mr. Joshua Hart, serving in South Sudan
Author: 
Mr. Joshua Hart (Photo: UNMISS/Janet Adongo)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Joshua Hart and I am 20 years old. I come from Birmingham in England and I am a sapper in the British army. I started preparing to join the army when I was 16 years and finally enrolled on my 18th birthday.

When I’m not at work, I enjoy mixed martial arts or producing music from a small studio back home. I also play basketball and I recently participated in a basketball tournament ahead of the United Nations Peacekeepers’ day here in Malakal, South Sudan.

How long have you been a peacekeeper and what are your responsibilities?

I’ve been a peacekeeper for four months now, with two months left of my tour. I’m glad I got this opportunity. On the taskforce I am a ‘G10’ store man and my responsibilities include maintaining the engineering kit and signing it in and out for those working on different tasks. I am basically in charge of every bit of equipment that we use – from tiny screwdrivers in huge tool boxes, to sledgehammers and drills and everything in between.

Why did you choose this career? How did you become a UN Peacekeeper?

When I was 16, some of my peers were taking the wrong path and I did not want to be like them. I decided to join the British army and two years later I got this peacekeeping assignment. My work as a peacekeeper has been rewarding, especially because I get to help people both directly and indirectly on a daily basis.

What is your typical day like?

I get up in the morning, take breakfast and then report for duty. My morning tasks mostly involve signing out engineering kits for those going on a task. Once that is done, I join them on location – right now that’s at the Level 2 hospital we are building, or the staff accommodation construction site. I spend most days on site and only return to carry out maintenance and repair of equipment. We have to be creative and innovative when it comes to repairing tools that we use daily, such as pick axes, shovels and sledgehammers. At the end of the day, I sign everything back in, make sure it’s in good shape and ready for the next task. I would then typically head out for a game or call it a day if it’s been a long or hard one. That’s a normal day for me.

What are some of the highlights of your service at your current peacekeeping mission? What are three things you like most about the country you are deployed in? 

One highlight has been working with troops from other countries - there’s always that mutual respect for one another. The thought that my work, however big or small, is contributing towards the well-being of the local population gives me a very rewarding feeling. 

What part of your job do you find most challenging and why?

The most challenging bit is the back-to-back nature of the work. You do a task, complete it and roll right into the next one. It’s hard but it’s worthwhile. I also wish I would work more directly with the locals. I have, however, come to learn and understand that in the UN everyone plays a part that contributes towards the bigger picture. No task is too small or too big. Everything, no matter how seemingly insignificant, works towards the mandate of the mission in South Sudan.

What did your family and friends back home think about your decision to leave your country and work for a UN peacekeeping mission?

They have a bit of a misconception about it ─ they think I’m in danger given the situation here, but I put them at ease. However, they are proud of me back home, especially my mother. They try not to ask too many questions, but I know they are proud of me.

What do you do when you have some spare time?

Whenever I have a minute I call back home to catch up with my family and  hear how they are doing. I also watch movies, TV and spend some time socializing with the rest of the team here.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, I would still be serving with the British Army in whatever capacity I’m deployed at that point in time. There are many opportunities for me to explore within the army, and I intend to make use of them.

What would you say to young people considering a career in peacekeeping?

I want them to understand that this career is both challenging and fulfilling if you have an open mind about it, and if you choose to enjoy it. If they go into peacekeeping fixated on just one thing that they want to do, then they won’t enjoy the diversity that it comes with the job. Also, they’ve got to learn that they may not always see the fruit of their work immediately, but just know that they have played their part and a lot of people are grateful for it.