Yesterday in Sudan, today in Burkina Faso, Gautier Ferran has been trotting the globe for a while. From one continent to another, from marketing to Information Management, he is like a cat with nine lives. But there is one immovable thing in the diversity and richness of his life: being a dad.
We sat down with this father of two children, Gwenaelle and Oliver, to get his insight on balancing family and professional life while on deployment.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m a French native and my initial background is in communications and marketing. I started my career in Paris in the private sector and then moved to Washington DC to get a master’s in international relations. I met Amanda, now my wife, at the end of my program and ended up living in the US for six years. Our daughter was born in DC and in 2017, we moved to Rome where I started working with the World Food Programme. I joined the Logistics Cluster in April of this year to support the information management efforts for COVID-19, deployed to Sudan and recently to Burkina Faso as Information Management (IM) officer.
You are a Dad to two children Gwenaelle and Oliver: can you tell us a bit about how you managed to balance family and professional life while on deployment?
Clearly, I wouldn’t be able to deploy if it wasn’t for my wife. She has always graciously supported me and given me the green light to go, even when it’s last minute and for several months. When I’m away, it means that Amanda is solo parenting Gwenaelle who is 4 years-old and Oliver who is 18 months old and believe me, taking care of kids that age can really be intense! In contrast, I generally end up having more time for myself during my deployments which I try to use toward learning something new, catching up with friends or exploring my new living environment.
In Kaya, Burkina Faso Photo: WFP/Logistics Cluster
Were there activities that you managed to do with your children while on deployment? Which was your favourite?
Not really. It’s quite tricky to have some sort of structured interactions due to the distance and the young age of our children. We have the routine of morning and late afternoon calls but even those can be hectic depending on the moment we speak. At best, I can have a few minutes of quality catch up with my daughter and at worst, my son grabs the phone and walks around with it before dumping it somewhere…
What would your advice be to people about to deploy? Any tips on how to keep in touch with their family?
Since video calls with a one and a four-year old can be tricky, I’ve tried to exchange more video messages with my family that they can watch later at a convenient time. These included a few videos of myself reading bedtime stories that my wife could play to the kids before going to sleep. Other than that, I honestly don’t feel able to give advice to fellow humanitarian workers, especially those with jobs that are taking them away from their families for years. Extended deployments involve a lot of courage and personal sacrifice so hats off to colleagues who are serving long term far away from their loved ones.
You are about to come home, how will you celebrate?
Simply by resuming life as a family. I look forward to simple things such as cooking and sharing meals together or taking our kids to school. I’m also planning on taking my daughter on a date since we’ve missed each other a lot.
To learn more about the Logistics Cluster operation in Sudan and Burkina Faso, visit our dedicated pages.