John Frewen - Respite and recreation

Running time
2 min 13 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Some missions you are very intense, seven days a week. Years later in Afghanistan, I was on a routine in a coalition headquarters of seven days a week. But on Sunday you started two hours later. And that was the only rest cycle you would get, so very intense. Rwanda, the days were full, but the evenings, short of finishing reports and things like that.

There was an officer's mess in Kigali, there was a Sergeant mess in Kigali and there was a soldier's mess in Kigali. They would only open to serve alcohol, maybe sort of two nights a week, a Friday, Saturday night type thing. But on the other nights, you could go there and there were videotapes in those days available, and you could watch video tapes or play board games or chess and those sorts of things. So we would do that, or we would go and sit on the veranda outside people's rooms and tell stories and sing songs and do that sort of stuff. It was pretty rudimentary, but we also were able to do both organised PT inside the barracks.

And in the early days of the mission too, there were other activities such as runs that were organised through the city. So you could go and do a longer, I think was a five kilometre or a 10-kilometre run that we did occasionally. Also through the course of the mission, I organised a rugby game with the British parachute field ambulance that we trained up for a couple of weeks. And went and got the engineers to clear and oval, make sure there were no mines and other munitions on there. And then we staged the rugby game. So there was some good activities in amongst all of the other stuff as well. We share a national day with India and we were sharing the barracks in Kigali with an Indian unit for many, many months. And so we had a combined national day with them where we did cultural events and played a game of cricket as well. And those sorts of things. So there was the ability to get some respite.

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