18°35'44.30"N 72°15'6.69"W. These are the coordinates of the SOS Children's Village in Santo. That's pretty important, because there are virtually no street names anywhere, so help organizations locate each other by using coordinates. It took me a while to get used to that, but by now I automatically ask for coordinates, not for addresses. Among other tasks, I am in charge of coordinating relief work with other organisations. Every Friday, all the German relief organisations working here in Haiti meet at the German Embassy. The meetings, at which we decide on matters of cooperation, are moderated by the German organisation THW (Technisches Hilfswerk, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief). Whenever we receive donations in kind that are of no use to us at the moment, I offer them to other NGOs or, when the donations consist of medicine, to hospitals. We are grateful for everything we receive, and there is good use to be made of everything, but it's still most helpful when people donate money, since that allows us to buy everything we need right here while simultaneously stimulating the Haitian economy.
My days are always different, since there are so many different things to do. I'm often at the UN airport, where help is organised into different clusters. For me, the most relevant are the food cluster and the logisitics cluster. I go to the food cluster when our supplies are low and then to the logistics cluster, where two dispatchers arrange for trucks to deliver the food or other supplies to the SOS Children's Village in Santo. What makes all this so efficient is the complete absence of bureaucratical paper-pushing. Just today, I went to the food cluster, asked for some food and promptly had 15 tonnes of ready-made dinners put at my disposal. I went over to the logistics cluster, and was promised two trucks for delivery of the goods tomorrow morning. Without all the bureaucracy, so common in everyday life, working here is so much more efficient. It never ceases to surprise me how even huge organisations like the United Nations work in such an uncomplicated and swift way.
I'll tell you more on that tomorrow.