Tuesday, March 16

Drama and dilemmas

It was with great anticipation that I set off for a weekend of comparative comfort, however, as often happens the anticipation is greater than reality!  The building started off looking like a slightly rundown one storey motel, but it was by the sea.  We tried to dump bags, but the rooms weren’t ready so we went off for lunch with a possible donor.  On our return at about 5pm, after a number of visits en route, the rooms still weren’t ready.  We were able to sit with a cool drink near to the water, then had a quick paddle in the water before being shown our room.  Unfortunately, the apartment that the person booking the rooms had been shown, did not quite match the one that we were in.  In ours the door handles didn’t quite work, the bathroom door didn’t fit the frame, or have a handle or latch.  There were no curtains in the rooms which looked straight out into the restaurant area.  The apartment had been wired but there were no plug sockets just bare wires, the light switches were a switch in a hole surrounded by wires.  The beds also had plastic over them which in a hot climate is not great. The hotel manager was surprised that we didn’t appreciate how hard he’d worked to get to that point,  we thought we were getting the finished product – it was all in all rather like an episode from Fawlty Towers.

After a long programme meeting on Saturday from 9am to 6pm at night one of our lucky number jumped into the sea but got out again a couple of minutes later saying that something had bitten her.  It was in fact a box jelly fish.  After many phone calls and raiding of the medical kit we were fortunate to be able to help.  I think about 6 jelly fish had been swept over the coral reef, it wasn’t a usual occurrence, just unfortunate I think.

Today I have finished off an application for tarpaulins for 3,600 households for Tearfund partners here in Port au Prince.  I’ll take it I when I go to the Logs base tomorrow morning and hopefully there will be tarps still in the pipeline that we can access.  I’m also trying to compile a spreadsheet before I leave which shows all the Tearfund partners and programme, in all the different areas, with the activities that will be undertaken so that all the information is in a central place.  Tomorrow I think we’re working on an application to UNICEF to be able to access resources for schools and early learning.  There is an item called ‘school in a box’ which is literally what it is!

The large mounds of rubble everywhere on the streets continue to grow.  The groups of people in red, yellow, blue, purple T shirts on cash for work programmes are a talking point in many meetings, but they are doing valuable work clearing ditches, rubble and rubbish from the streets.  An item which is taking up time currently in most of the cluster meetings is discussions about camp relocations.  5 new camps have been designated by the government and it anticipated that 200,000 people will be moved from camps in the city into the new camps, where transitional shelters will be built.  There are various discussions going on in clusters regarding human rights and ensuring people are not moved forcibly.  There are also issues with regard to children needing to be registered to ensure their safety in the move, which will probably happen very quickly and with little warning.  Many of the camps from which people will be moved are overcrowded and with poor sanitation and facilities and will flood during the rainy season.  It is a problem not easily solved.  Talking to local Haitians they all know people who just sleep at the camps, but during the day return to their homes to cook and try and carry on their lives.  For some their homes have actually been passed as safe by engineers but the majority of these have not been reoccupied, people would rather sleep out in the open away from concrete.  So these people will not want to move to live in different camps, the majority of which are 10 km north of Port au Prince.  For the government their predicament is difficult, if you forcibly move people their will be outcry from the NGO community regarding human rights, if you leave people who do not want to move there will be outcry that people who have suffered from the earthquake are now living in flooded areas.  One of the myriad of issues that people are struggling to solve.


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