Chris McIvor‘Being an aid worker has allowed me to experience some fantastically interesting cultures’
Duration: 18m 41s
Recorded: 14 August 2018
About this recording
Chris McIvor was born in Wick’s Henderson memorial nursing home in 1956. His father Sandy was a radio officer, originally from Perth, while his mother Rose came from eastern Germany. In the last of three recordings, Chris talks about how from an early age he developed a keen interest in world travel and the prospect of experiencing other cultures. This stemmed partly from his father’s seafaring tales from his time in the merchant navy, and partly from regular holidays to Munich to visit the family’s German relatives.
Chris goes on to describe how he broke off from his university studies to take up a teaching post in Sudan and talks about his subsequent career in overseas aid over a period of more than 30 years working in countries such as Zimbabwe, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Mozambique, Haiti and Jamaica (he also mentions how he found himself in the middle of a war zone in Chad). He is currently the country director for Save the Children in Sri Lanka.
Chris gives an insight into his work with rural communities and disadvantaged people and the changing nature of the aid business. “What stands out for me in those first 10 to 15 years of working in the aid business is that it allowed me to experience at a fairly profound and deep level very, very different cultures,” he says, “and to see how people that were labelled poor and underdeveloped in our way of thinking actually had a lot to offer… It sometimes made me feel that I was taking more than I was giving.”
Chris – who describes himself as a “nomad” – goes on to reflect on his feelings about his home town and how, with the passing of years, he feels a closer attachment to Wick.
In 2005 he was awarded an OBE for his services on behalf of Save the Children in Zimbabwe.
Chris has written three books about his travels. The latest is The World is Elsewhere: My Life in Cuba and Other Places. It follows on from A Bend in the Nile: My Life in Sudan and Other Places, and In the Old Chief’s Country: My Life in Zimbabwe and Other Places.