Had my RedR security training course last week which involved me getting kidnapped – yes I was the lucky one with the sack put over my head and dragged off, then car jacked and a passer by in cross fire. It was useful to be reminded of much of the advice and we also did hurricane and earthquake preparedness. I now need to prepare ‘hibernation’ boxes for the teams in Leogane in case there is a hurricane and we have to stay in our allocated hibernation room for several days. Monday we had a tropical storm alert, but by the afternoon it had gone from red to orange alert.
Sunday two of us went up to the church associated with the orphanage on whose land we camp in the Uplands. It was a Saints day, St Augustine de Padoue, mostly in Creole but I did manage to keep track of bits of the sermon and what was said. At the end of the offering a group of ladies came down the aisle with large baskets of items for the offering on their heads. There were chickens and a turkey amongst fruit and vegetables and even a bottle of rum. If you’d like to see some photos they are on Picasa
We got a special mention for helping the nuns, orphanage and the area, including helping with rebuilding the road to the church. I’m currently sitting in a plywood and corrugated iron cabin that has been erected on the orphanage site. It provides an area for work and relaxation (tables and metal fold out chairs) for those living up here which isn’t a tent. I’m back to my tent that I spent 2 months in earlier in the year. My thermarest almost looks welcoming. The latrine we dug is good but not so inviting!
Monday I went to the Uplands site for the first time. Before setting off at 9.30 I had a manic couple of hours trying to make sure that the staff were all sorted for the next couple of days. We are still trying to recruit for some positions, especially skilled construction workers and need to set up systems to make the vehicles, purchase requests and stock systems work better. We have also had a couple of staff bereavements. The father of a staff member died last week and Monday afternoon a son of another died from meningitis. Another staff member has a child who has been very sick and this morning a staff member asked for prayers for his cousin. She was pregnant and now it has been said that she will die. It is certainly a sobering reminder of the frailty of life. I’ve order 20 first aid kits and first aid training for our construction sites, to include supplies for breaks and traumas.
Once up at Tom Gato (our site in the mountains) it was a bit calmer.We are sharing an office building with another organisation. It is rather cramped working conditions but is a permanent structure. It was the first time that I had met my staff up there and I am hoping to appoint an assistant, to the logs officer, this week to help with the stock movement. It is increasingly important to make sure everything works properly for warehousing as we start bringing in materials for housing construction. I had notification that we were allocated 1,000 tool kits and 4,000 mosi nets. Today I got an email asking if I could arrange a crane for containers for storage at both sites. Another thing for the ‘to do’ list! Everything takes up so much space and when it the wood, concrete etc arrive in a couple of weeks it will take all the space we have. A rub haul is also on my shopping list for storage.
It is a beautiful site coming out of my tent in the morning. Even when the rain has poured down during the night, the mist across the hills in bright sunshine is very beautiful. There are clear scars on the mountains from the earthquake. It is much cooler up in the mountains, I even had a sleeping bag over my shoulders at night, but hot by 6.30am. The second evening it was just me and some national staff there in the evening, my French is taking a bit of a battering. It may be execrable to listen to for Haitians but I have had to explain all manner of things and my vocab is improving for financial, HR and logistical matters! I was due to start French lessons with a couple of nuns in the evening but that isn’t now happening until next week.
The education team have been incorporating world cup activities into many of their lessons and have been doing a lot of disaster risk reduction training. They have been working on material for earthquakes and hurricanes which we have talked of trialling with staff first. Sadly some are still quite traumatised by all that has happened. The construction teams are waiting for treated wood and plywood to arrive before carrying on with shelters. Currently latrines for schools have been their main focus. I attended a shelter cluster meeting today. It was good to be back with my favourite cluster, getting ideas and listening to others. Also they had wireless internet which was very welcome as ours has been on the blink for the last few days in the Leogane office.
We have some beds and even a sofa in our house now. Still no kitchen so have to go next door for that. Sheets arrived this week which was exciting.
Please pray for staff over this weekend as we have the funeral for the little boy on Saturday and a major meeting to agree a proposal for institutional funding which needs to be submitted in just two weeks, lots of work to agree all the programme details and budgets.