Mark Povey - Anzac House
The compound we were in was the old university compound. The building we were in was a disused motor pool, it was a solid concrete building. That was called Anzac House. We were the last, the fourth and last contingent to stay in Anzac House. It was home away from home. I shared a room with a navy Lieutenant and there was two army blokes in another room off us. We just slept on cots. I had a busted wardrobe for my locker. There was a big room for about 12 other blokes, they all slept in cots. So we sort of tried to make it as homely as we could.
When we first got to Somalia in 94 there was a couple of big air conditioning units in our compound. And when I say our compound, it was only like we had a razor wire fence around it. We had a gate; the gate was locked at eight o'clock every night. And within our compound, we had two big air conditioning units. So the place wasn't air conditioned and you can imagine how hot it was. So we organised a crane we spoke to a few Somali workers and we did some bartering and some tooing and froing and as the senior storeman in the contingent, scratched a few backs and gave out some water and some ration packs and so forth.
Got a crane in; we lifted the units up onto the roof. We bartered and scrapped our way to get some trunking. We got the unit's working and we had an air conditioned building. We found, for want of a better term, we found other air conditioning units to air condition some of the rooms.
So we sort of made it more homely. We had a wire fence. We got sacking and covered the fence in sacking so that we had a bit of privacy so no one was perving on us all the time. We just made life a bit more bearable for the time we were there. We had an outdoor gym that previous contingents had set up. When we were there, we set up a bar area. So we could sit around and have a drink at night time instead of just standing around.
So yeah, we found things to amuse ourselves, just to make each day become more bearable...we had TV which was sporadic. We could get CNN every now and then. We had a video recorder. One on the army blokes, he would go and get videos and we could watch videos at night time. Radio was Somali radio. So the only music was Somali music. The only language was Somali on the radio. So you know the radios in the vehicles were never on.
The US had iaison officer, they had a bar in country so we could go and have a drink with them. Next to where we lived was the UN bar. We could go in there and have a drink. So we weren't limited to what we couldn't do. We had to be careful that when night time when we're out and about within the compound, just be aware of our surroundings. Even though all the Somalis had gone home, there was still gunfire going on every night of the week. So, you know, we still had to be aware of ourselves.