28 October 2021
Category : Interview
Mario Farnós is a Guardia Civil lieutenant and the director of a project in Mauritania on maritime security. Next, we know his experience in the African countryMario Farnós is a Guardia Civil lieutenant and the director of a project in Mauritania on maritime security. Next, we know his experience in the African country
What was your arrival in Mauritania like? Is there anything you remember in particular?
My arrival in Mauritania was calm at first since the coordinator (Alejandro Bosch) and I arrived together, and that calms you down a bit. For me it was the first long-term stay in Africa. You realise that Mauritania is a mixture of cultures, you know that it is an Islamic republic, as far as religion is concerned, but seeing how the Arab world and black Africa coexist was shocking for me.
As an interesting anecdote, eating with your hands is not easy…. seeing how they look at you, waiting to see if you eat the rice, or how you are going to cut a piece of meat. In the end they help you, they themselves cut it with their hand and give you the piece so you can eat, you can’t refuse such a gesture of kindness which, when you’re hungry, is very welcome.
How did the adaptation period go? What were the hardest and easiest things for you?
What I found hardest, professionally, was to take things with the relative simplicity and calm with which things are done here, they don’t plan over the short term, nor are they so strict with schedules or deadlines, but the day when something has to be done, they are there, they organise it from one day to the next, without any problem.
It reminds me a lot of how we used to do things in Spain 25 years ago, without so much protocol, procedure, and so on.
The least difficult thing for me was to see things from their point of view, I think I can empathise with people and I put myself in their place, I ask them for things knowing the means the country has available, the situation, the resources and the staff they have available, to know how far we can go together.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain?
Long-term, it is my first experience, I had already worked with FIIAPP as a short-term expert in Chile and Bolivia, but Islamic culture has nothing to do with Latin America.
Right now I am at the midpoint, I have been here a year and in principle I have another one to go, insallah! Although you never know how long we will be here, I am really happy.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
My day to day is completely different from what I did in Spain.
I worked as a post commander on the island of Fuerteventura and there your main function was to anticipate the arrival of immigrants, coordinate the security mechanism upon their arrival, anticipate they would awaiting medical assistance and transfer them to the hospital or to the Bureau of Immigration for their identification. Here it is very different, it’s working day to day with different institutions such as the National Gendarmerie, the Mauritanian Coast Guard, the Mauritanian Police and organising joint meetings so that they can work in a coordinated manner, not subordinate, in the field of maritime security and immigration , especially irregular immigration.
What is your relationship with FIIAPP like? And with your colleagues in Mauritania?
The relationship with FIIAPP staff, who are in Madrid, is different from how I had been working. Getting to know FIIAPP’s methodology, the processes, the procedures, understanding that everyone has their own patch…… but you realise that you can count on very capable professionals with extraordinary knowledge in fields I knew nothing about
With my colleague in Mauritania, Alejandro, what can I say? We arrived together, we shared the same office, we used just one computer and, as with colleagues from Madrid, you realise the great amount of knowledge and work capacity they have in areas you know nothing about.
How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
In two words, very positive.
Professionally, it was a challenge for me, working in another country, in another language, another culture and, after a year, seeing that the Mauritanian beneficiaries are happy with your work makes you feel happy.
And on a personal level, it is a very rewarding experience that you will never forget.
Find out about the project that Mario Farnós coordinates in Mauritania.
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