Well this will be my last update. Got lots still to do before I leave as after receipt of some emails I need to take some video and photos. I was due to go to the Upland areas of the DMT programme site yesterday, but it rained all through the night and into the day, so the visit was called off 6.30 yesterday morning. It means I have to leave some things unfinished and in the hands of others. It isn’t that they aren’t capable, but I am now more susceptible to the vagaries of communications to get what I need. The rains meant that there was an impact on the programme work, in the morning they were unable to even get the car out of the parking area. The road up the hillside is treacherous at the best of times but the rains will make it inaccessible at times.
The rains were heavy and although only for less than 24 hours have an immediate impact on the camps and the roads around Port au Prince. Yesterday I received the following email via the shelter cluster asking for assistance with tents and flooring. ‘The compound is situated at the Petionville Club, and there is an IDP camp of approx 45,000 people living there. Last night the hospital tent was damaged and has no flooring so it is taking on water and is a muddy disaster, but they are still using it to treat urgent care and emergency patients. Equipment, including an x-ray machine was moved under shelter but there is more equipment in danger from the rain and mud/flooding. The school tents (over 300 kids enrolled) were ruined and unusable, all of the school supplies and tables/chairs have been moved to high ground, but are not under shelter.
We need to replace the clinic and school tents, and provide flooring, today if possible. The location for the school has been moved to more stable ground to avoid this happening again if we have the necessary flooring/tents. The clinic would be stabalized if there was flooring and a more stable tent structure.’
The government is still struggling to secure land and agreements for new camps to the north of Port au Prince. Landowners have not proved willing to give land that will in all probability be a permanent gift, the government has said it does not have the funds to purchase the land (money coming in from appeals has not gone to the government), the church has very little land in Haiti, and so the debates and negotiations carry on. Plans that seemed firm two weeks ago are now not so concrete, but time marches inexorably onwards.
I was reminded today that news is a matter of perspective. I happened to see an article from the Guardian about 2 weeks ago reporting the usage of Google earth and map for plotting aid coming into Haiti. Strange that this is news, since it has been happening since the beginning of the crisis. Many of the towns and communities have different names in French and Creole, or even just the way they are reported. Agencies need to be clear where distributions or work is going on and so GPS coordinates have consistently been encouraged and mapped through the coordinating bodies and onto Google. Technological tools which are deemed almost a necessity suddenly become news. As Tearfund we have a lovely map of all our programme sites and I’m trying to get them plotted on a map showing contours, mountain tops, main towns etc. It all helps to give a clear picture of where each agency is working.
I’m off to a church tomorrow that needs rebuilding after the earthquake. I’m being collected at 6am but am told it will be over by 8am!
I’ve been thinking about things I’m looking forward to or will miss as I return, and a couple of the team have asked about 1st meals!
I’ll miss the sun and the warmth, but not the mud. Tents and mud aren’t great but then it is warm and so it soon washes off
I’ll miss seeing the programme develop, seeing things I’ve worked on come to fruition
I’ll miss the people who have put so much passion, energy and their dreams into creating the programme and will be able to see lives change
I’ll miss being a part of something bigger than just Tearfund, being a cog in the coordination machinery
I’ll miss the local staff who have got used to our funny ways and shared their lives
I’ll even miss my little tent, my sanctuary from the world!
And what am I looking forward to? Seeing my children – what else is there?!