Our story - Henderina Stubbe

The fine line between serving and saving our customers

The world of humanitarian travel is a volatile place in which circumstances may change drastically from one day to the next. And it’s a world in which different Raptim clients may be executing fundamentally different activities, just a few plane hours away from each other. Travel consultant Henderina Stubbe experienced this first-hand in December 2013.

Tensions had been building up between South Sudan president Kiir and vice-president Machar when violence finally erupted on 15 December 2013. Heavy gun fighting filled the streets of capital city Juba, and soon spread to other towns across the country. 

“At moments like these, we become very aware of the fine line between ‘serving’ and ‘saving’ our clients.”

Henderina Stubbe, Raptim travel consultant

Henderina Stubbe works as a travel consultant at our Amsterdam office and one of her primary customers is Doctors without Borders (MSF) – a medical humanitarian organization. One of its biggest missions is in South Sudan. After the sudden outbreak of violence, MSF decided to evacuate most of their staff.

“We had to find possibilities and flights to get their staff out of the country as fast as we could,” says Henderina. “At moments like these, we become very aware of the fine line between ‘serving’ and ‘saving’ our clients.”

While Henderina was trying to get international medical staff out of the country, she was also arranging for people to fly out of the country for an entirely different reason. Another primary Raptim customer, PAX - a Dutch organization that works to advance peace and security around the globe - was acting as a mediator in the peace negotiations between conflicted South Sudanese parties, that were to take place in the neighboring country of Ethiopia. The agreement would end the rebellion of the SSDM/A-Cobra Faction, which began a year earlier. "So we had to fly a government delegation, translators, religious leaders and local PAX staff members from Juba to Ethiopia." 

A month later, on 23 January 2014, a first fragile cease-fire agreement was signed by the delegations of the quarreling president and vice-president. One week later, on 30 January, a more comprehensive cease-fire agreement was signed.

“Without your support and hard work in the past few weeks and especially days, we would not have been able to facilitate this important process,” PAX staff members wrote. “That’s why we want to sincerely thank you for your tireless effort and flexibility.”

“To be confronted with an urgent evacuation on the one hand, and bringing people together for peace negotiations on the other, makes our work so very special and fulfilling,” says Henderina. “Let’s hope these cease-fires are the first steps towards a peaceful solution of the struggles in the region. So that both Doctors without Borders and other organizations can return to South Sudan to help the people who need it most.”