Settling in after Afghanistan

Apr 28th, 2014 | By | Category: Local Characters, Out & About

Eastwest CollegeBy Ciaran Warner

The new principal of Gordonton’s very own Eastwest College says it is a privilege to be taking over the role.

Martin Campbell, along with wife Joyce, was appointed to the position in March, and the two are positively delighted to have become both a part of the college and the community.

Eastwest College, which has been in Gordonton since 1996, is a multi-cultural organisation dedicated to training Christian workers to provide support and education to foreign cultures.

“Some of it may be church work, some of it is development work, medical work,” says Martin.

Martin, 46, hails from Belfast in Northern Ireland, and together with Joyce has spent 12 years in Afghanistan doing medical and developmental work – a period of time he describes as “never dull”.

He ran a team of medical workers, who worked as a mobile surgical team, going cross-country in order to provide medical services to the less fortunate.

“For instance, there are people in parts of Afghanistan who have cataracts, they’ve been blind for years. We go in, do a quick surgery, and they can see again. That makes a huge difference to people.”

Joyce, 43, was born and raised in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. She started out in orthopaedic nursing in Glasgow, before making the move to medical work in Afghanistan.

Working under the regime of the Taliban, she was unable to educate other women but was able to find a commercial outlet for the “beautiful” handiwork of Afghan women.

“There are a lot of war widows in Afghanistan from the years of turmoil, so I used to buy their handmade embroidery and send it back to the UK, and folks there would buy it. And the women always received the money for it,” Joyce says.

The couple have three children, Alasdair, Joe-Joe, and Jordan, all of whom were brought up in Afghanistan.

“They had a very positive experience living there, despite the challenges we faced,” says Joyce. “It was actually quite sad to be leaving.”

Attendees at the last Gordonton Country Market may have seen or heard the children touting their musical talent beneath the old oak tree.

The couple have been in New Zealand since last October, but first visited the country in 2007 for a friend’s wedding, discovering the college in the process.

They were soon asked to come on staff for the college, and (understandably) subsequently became quite fond of Gordonton.

Joyce says there are many similarities between Gordonton and rural Scotland and so feels “very at home here.”

“Gordonton has a great community sense to it,” Martin says. “It feels like everyone’s related, everyone’s family. And the market’s been a great addition.

“We’ve gotten to know a lot of the locals, and they’re very warm, very solid people.”

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One Comment to “Settling in after Afghanistan”

  1. Pip says:

    Love the understatement – Afghanistan “never dull”. So kiwi. They’ll fit right in here in NZ.

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