Making a difference through WFP

30 Jun 2020

Sam Clendon (12462) is used to living out of a suitcase. Although based in Bangkok at the Asia Pacific regional office of the World Food Programme, Sam spends more time than not travelling to WFP programmes around the world. Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Sri Lanka – they’ve all been part of his itinerary during the past year.

The World Food Programme helps almost 100 million people in more than 80 countries each year, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.

A former Old Boy, who left Christ’s College in 2002, Sam has worked for the WFP for 12 years with a decade spent in conflict and post conflict contexts across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. That time has included two years in Afghanistan and three years each in both Yemen and Syria.

It’s a far cry from the hallowed halls of Oxford University where Sam completed an MSc in Forced Migration at Oxford University, preceded by a BA in International Affairs and Public Policy at Princeton in the US.

“I’m grateful. I firmly believe that my work has an immediate and profound impact on the most vulnerable communities, and I feel privileged to be allowed to serve.

“Each country I’ve worked in is different and being able to see the immediate impact of our work on communities afflicted by poverty, food insecurity and conflict is immensely rewarding. I’m very privileged to be able to live, work and travel in these beautiful countries that unfortunately most people will only ever see as another tragic headline on the evening news.

“Having said that, threats are very real, and are something that I fully accept as part of the life that I lead. I don’t consider my approach too blasé or dismissive, yet I do think that international media representations of the countries in which I’ve worked, such as Yemen, Sudan and, Afghanistan, can be misleading.

“Targeted attacks against humanitarian aid workers are infrequent, and it’s very much wrong place, wrong time. It’s important to understand that daily life continues unabated – you still go to the markets, drive through the city and see friends, albeit at times in an armored vehicle.”

After visiting family in his hometown of Christchurch, Sam was actually at the airport on 22 March, poised to head back to Bangkok on when Thailand shut its borders because of Covid-19. It could just be the longest he’s stayed in one place!