By Maj. Tristan Hinderliter, MINUSTAH Military Public Information Office
Editor’s Note: On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2017, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight female peacekeepers who are part of the military component of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – One U.S. Soldier here has overcome adversity and found meaning in service as an international peacekeeper.
U.S. Army Maj. Windy Waldrep, originally from North Carolina and deployed from Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Germany, is by trade a “chemical officer” – an expert on chemical, nuclear and biological weapons. She serves MINUSTAH as a civil-military coordination officer, which entails coordinating activities between the U.N. mission, the Haitian government, and non-governmental organizations.
“It’s such an eye-opener to see a big operation and to have the opportunity to work with other countries besides just the U.S.,” she said. “It’s also exciting to be able to see the abilities of militaries from different countries and to experience different cultures.”
One of her favorite projects so far has been working with an NGO called Nos-efan to organize a summer camp for children from 7-16 years old in the city of Carrefour, near Port-au-Prince.
“We were able to take kids on field trips and do educational activities,” Waldrep said. “This also helped boost the self-confidence and self-esteem of the kids in the community, as well as show the MINUSTAH military component in a positive light.”
Another highlight of her deployment was organizing Christmas events at orphanages and schools in the Port-au-Prince area. At one Christmastime operation coordinated with with the Argentinian Hospital and the Paraguayan Engineering Company, military peacekeepers provided toys and activities, music, games, and enjoyed celebrating Christmas with disabled children at a local orphanage, Notre Maison.
Waldrep has also spent a significant amount of her tour in Les Cayes, on Haiti’s southern coast, coordinating between the Brazilian military component there, Haitian authorities and NGOs to distribute humanitarian aid and secure convoys of food and supplies to residents in the area affected by Hurricane Matthew, which struck the southern peninsula on Oct. 4, 2016.
Her yearlong tour in Haiti will be complete next month, but Waldrep’s time in Haiti was almost cut dramatically short.
“I was home in August visiting my family, and I felt a sharp pain in my back, so I went to the Emergency Room,” she said. “The doctor told me that I had an acute medical condition that would require 90 days of recovery before I could return to work.”
She went home for her allotted recuperation, and afterward had to re-apply to be accepted back into the mission.
“I was very disappointed that I couldn’t come back right away, but I still didn’t forget about my job in Haiti,” Waldrep said. “I’m just happy that the military component wanted me back. I’m definitely happy to be back doing a mission that I love, a humanitarian mission, getting involved and making a difference.”
U.S. Army MAJ Windy Waldrep, MINUSTAH civil-military coordination officer, speaks at an event for International Peacekeeping Day, May 28, 2016. During the event, soldiers with the Philippine contingent taught students carpentry skills.
U.S. Army MAJ Windy Waldrep interacts with children at a holiday event for children hosted by MINUSTAH’s Brazilian Battalion in Cite Soleil, Dec. 23, 2016. Approximately 150 children participated in the festivities.