In the fall of 2010, the Civilian Response Corps deployed to the Kyrgyz Republic to help coordinate U.S. assistance. An outbreak of ethnic violence in June had destabilized the country's south, where Jim, a member of the Civilian Response Corps, helped set up and run a temporary U.S. assistance coordination unit. This office helped the United States prevent conflict and monitor events in the area -- tasks for which Jim drew on his experience in fragile states like Iraq and Pakistan. One of Jim's more interesting challenges during his deployment was helping to make sure that free coats and blankets were distributed proportionately among ethnic groups during the violent period, thereby avoiding perceived inequalities that could have ignited further conflict.
Describing his experience, Jim said, "Part of the way through my tour, our [Manas] transit facility in the north was given the opportunity to distribute coats and blankets to several of the needy areas in the north and in the south. In the south, such distributions were very sensitive given the fragility of the situation. We were able to go in and talk to some of the village elders to ensure that the distribution, when it happened, would be done in such a way so as to ensure that no group felt left out or in any way was unintentionally harmed by the distribution. We went out early to try to work it out with the village elders at a time when snow was falling in the mountains where we were going, and our armored Suburbans had a little bit of difficulty getting up into the village. Once we were there, we were very well received, fed a lot of rice and fermented mare's milk. We were able to sit down with these elders and with the government officials that we'd brought in from Osh and from the rayon headquarters, the district headquarters of Kara-Kulja, to ensure that everyone was on the same page as to who should be getting these coats, and who is most needy, and how to ensure that everyone benefitted equally."
You can learn more at www.civilianresponsecorps.gov.