Artikelen van Darko Petrovic

Two weeks ago I came back to Europe from my 6 months assignment with WFP in The Gambia. Starting with a debriefing programme at the HQ in Rome, my cultural reintegration process into ´modern´ life is (believe it or not) yet ongoing as I still struggle to digest the tons of emotions and impressions I went through in that period while simultaenously getting used to old habits and lifestyle. Truly, this is sometimes easier said than done given the many soft contradictions between the two ´worlds´ in terms of culture, attitude, expectations, lifestyle, problem perceptions, initiative etc. which I have encountered and which now become dramatically more apparent to me. Yes, it might sound ridiculous but amongst others I do ask myself now more often why are the bananas here in Europe somehow tasteless and strawberries as big as tomatoes and why are we in the west economically so developed and others not? Ironically, it was in The Gambia that I found an adequate coping strategy for these questions, through poetry... Therefore, it is now in two pieces of poetry that I am trying to sum up few of the feelings that often went through my head and heart, and somehow still do. Thank you for reading and enjoy.

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From the beginning of December my free time is all about coaching a basketball team of 20-25 Gambian youth. In addition to such an exercise being a good opportunity to more easily challenge and overcome the cultural 'shock' theory and get to know the locals more closely, it also proves to be a valuable psychological experience and a welcome distraction from work life. Above all, it makes me realize how important indeed sport is for people's social and physical development, bringing with it many other developmental spin-offs, and how crucial in fact the role of nutritious food - hence WFP's presence in The Gambia - is in enabling that process, especially through school-feeding. 

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In the second part of the story ‘Why (Gambian) Mangoes Matter’ I will bring forward my first assertions on the current approach to the food security equation and try to provoke some thoughts on the limitations of such an understanding towards tackling food insecurity in the country.

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Tackling The Gambia’s Food Insecurity: Why (Gambian) Mangoes Matter is a series of articles devoted to the problem of food insecurity in The Gambia and the potential role of mangoes in addressing it. It is based on regular findings from the field, general observations from work at the WFP country office and the usage of some common sense when thinking, out of the box, about this multidimensional problem. With every following article millions of highly interested readers of this weblog section will be regularly presented with some 'food for thought' on The Gambian food security situation in order to make the reading a more interactive exercise, stimulate some debate on the problem of world hunger and open the mind to the different facets of food (in)security. Enjoy!

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 The experience I made last week made me really angry. No, it is not as much about the complicatedness of long-distance relationship issues and the heavy emotional baggage a humanitarian worker has to carry with him/her when doing the job he/she loves. No, it is also not about the fact that “high speed” internet here is so slow and unstable that I am even not able to upload a larger quantity of media, meaning somewhat more than 2-3 photos, about my stay in the Gambia, thereby failing to satisfy the legitimate expectations of my family, friends and employer when trying to follow up on what’s going on down here. Unfortunately, the topic of this week is corruption, in its most ugly form.

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 It’s now Saturday 00:35 am and I have to be insane to write a blog now but I will give it a try anyways, given the fact that I probably wont make it this weekend and next working week as, yes, you’ve heard me correctly I have to work!: it’s time for an emergency operation!

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Did you ever have the feeling of a total meltdown? Well, I did sometimes consider hot summer holidays or in general working during the summer as exhausting but it was not until the last four days that I got a glimpse of an idea of the true meaning of the word ‘meltdown’. During this period I was involved in monitoring and evaluation of WFP’s field operations. A task that is more easy said than done, and anything else than physically comforting.

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It was a truly impressive weekend (20-21 September). I was invited to participate at the Eid-al-Fitr, or locally known as the Korite feast celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan which involved visits at local families, giving presents to children, dressing up in beautiful and colourful dresses and trying out different delicious dishes. A very intense but wonderful week-end indeed. 

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Wow. What a first week was that. An incredible load of observations, impressions and emotions, again far surpassing the available space to write about it. It was the first week of work at WFP and at the same time a week of trying to get to grips with the way things go around here in The Gambia.

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Following a very intensive preparation week at the UN WFP Headquarters in Rome and at TNT in Den Bosch and Liege I finally arrived to The Gambia, yesterday morning at 6am with a neckbraking Spanair flight from Madrid. It's day two now for me in the Gambia and the third attempt for me to write this blog, after finding no wifi in Madrid-Barajas and experiencing temporary breakdown in the supply of e...

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Darko Petrovic

Darko Petrovic

Darko Petrovic (24) is Maastricht University alumnus. In 2008 he received a BA in European Studies at the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and in 2009 a MSc in Public Policy at the Graduate School of Governance. He was born in Belgrade, Serbia to a Polish mother and Serbian father and before coming to Maastricht he lived in Belgrade, Kraków and Hamburg where he finished high-school at the Gymnasium Rahlstedt. At Maastricht University he was very actively engaged in student associations and extra curricular activities and is the founder of the United Nations Student Association, EuroMUN and the UNSA Project Committee. As from September 2009 he will be working for six months for the UN World Food Programme and TNT Post in The Gambia providing humanitarian food aid. His guiding working ethic is “to put a human face on world affairs”. In addition he is very enthusiastic with basketball, history, travelling and inter-cultural exchange.