Who Is The Invisible Humanitarian

Change arrived when i asked a lovely lady, 

“Is this what you wish to be doing for the last half of our lifetime?”. 

“No!”, was her simple reply.

“Me neither!” 

We walked hand in hand into a new life. 

My wife and I are the founders of Man Of Peace Development (MOPD), a non-profit humanitarian organization in Canada. Not liking to be the face guy, I prefer to hide in West Africa doing hands on field work. I never wanted to be a CEO. I prefer getting my hands dirty in the work projects, far way from table meetings. The more invisible i can be, the better I like it.

“I have reached an age where my main purpose is not to receive messages.” (Umberto Eco)

I grew up in a Lobster fishing family on Canada’s East Coast, in the province of Prince Edward Island.  I work in Mali through the drought season each year, then return to Canada during Mali’s busy rainy cropping season, where I Captain my own commercial lobster fishing vessel named “The Morning Reflection”.

I wish I could say I am leaving my mark on the world for all to see, but I’m not. Each one, reach one, then another one ……… is the real truth.

Raised three young sons in Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast, West Africa) from 1995-2000.  Back to various West African countries five times between 2003-2010, and now working in Mali since January, 2011.

Learned the hard way that most approaches to community development (to anything, anywhere really) are too complicated and expensive to be repeated by locals. So my guiding philosophy for everything is:  Simple, economical, easily repeated.  If it’s not, the invisible humanitarian is not involved.

I love expats, for we share a common experience. I love their stories, that raw wisdom they’ve earned. We share the conflicted heart of living between two places.  Fellow life pilgrims until we die.

I probably love West Africa, and African people way too much. Is that possible? Is it stoppable?

A former ordained theologian, and local church minister, with a Bachelors Degree in Sacred Literature, who after fifteen years, chose to, “Jump off the steeple to live among the people.”   

Living in French West Africa ruined me of any possibility for a “normal” life in Canada. My friends and family keep waiting for me to “get over Africa”, but it’s never happened. They keep waiting for all of me to “come home”.  However, that is a journey my heart and mind was never able to make completely.

I’m forever a stranger in my own home town, the one who stares off in space in crowds. Trivial encounters, conversations about the weather or who did what,  bore me to tears. I always hunger for the rawness of real friendship.

I write oh so poorly, but I lack both the time and the will to do anything about it. I am not trying to build a following behind anything I do. I am running from being a leader, the term “Leadership” as tossed around these days is scaring the hell out of me. 

Into the second half of life, I have more questions than answers.

Once pegged as a reserved extrovert (meaning?), who, with age, has become more and more of an introvert,

“You are becoming a hermit”, my wife says.

I like to belly laugh.

I watch the sunrise almost every day at sea, and in Africa. 

If I see nothing more, I’ve seen enough.

I’ve seen stories, heard stories, and lived stories of my own.

I hope to tell some of my stories before I die. Why Tell The Story?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. starlilysue says:

    Found your blog as I continue to read about Mali. I’m going on a cultural tour at the end of December and I really appreciate your comments about the Ebola panic (Funny, the panic in the media settled down after the US elections, eh?) I only worry about our guide and Ebola. And our guide and the crushing poverty made worse by the terrorism and lack of tourists. I look forward to reading more as you write it. thank you!


    1. So excited you have an opportunity to come to Mali.
      Mali is a unique place and people of West Africa. You will love the kind people here.
      Just be aware that my articles were written in a context of the day, from my perspective. Take time to consider the situation for yourself.
      Still over reaction in the west, but simply know there are now eight new cases in Mali, possibly two more, with about 1000 being monitored. But still such a small risk…
      Drop us a note (or blog link) of how you found your trip. We love to hear about others experiences in Mali.
      Thanks to dropping a note.


  2. westiedad says:

    Have just found your blog and there seem to be a lot of stories here already. fascinating part of the world. I look forward to digging deeper into your blog.


    1. Westiedad, thank you for taking the time to read some stories on “The Invisible Humanitarian” website. Appreciate your time and willingness to share the story as it unfolds in Mali.


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