The opportunity was offered to Alistair as he is part of the United Kingdom Stabilisation Unit, a cross-government unit that provides a link between civil, military and police efforts.
Previous opportunities that Alistair has taken up as a result of his role within the Stabilisation Unit includes, spending a year as a Senior Policing Advisor in Kosovo (2011-2012), a week-long exchange with the Turkish National Police and two trips to Bosnia and Herzegovina with the British army, 77th Brigade.
So, why Sierra Leone? Alistair says: “It provides me with a great opportunity to build on my experiences working in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey and with the UK Stabilisation Unit, as well as the collaborative work with EMOpSS. I’m really looking forward to getting started; my first challenge is the journey that I will be making and being reunited with all of my luggage in Freetown…eventually, so I am told.”
Starting on 17 March 2019 and lasting up to two years, Alistair will have plenty of time to frequent himself with the local culture, but he admits as of yet, he isn’t entirely sure what to expect, he said: “I haven’t visited Sierra Leone, in fact, the only African country that I have ever visited was Egypt, so to a degree I will have to wait and see what greets me, but I have been doing my research.
“There are certain customs and practices that I will need to follow such as, when shaking someone’s hand, you must place your left hand under your right elbow, and always greeting someone first before launching into a conversation!
“From a living perspective, I will be based in the capital, Freetown, which funnily enough is close to an area called Leicester! Statistically speaking, I am assured that Freetown is the safest capital in Africa.
“I’m looking forward to familiarising myself with the local community, their official language is English – which is certainly helpful – with Krio being one of the traditional languages, which I have already started to learn.
“Above all, I’m really looking forward to getting out there and making a difference, which is what it is all about.”