Monday, 8 March 2010

Wake-up calls from the rooster

It's still dark at six o'clock in the morning, but the rooster has crowed for the fifth time already, so I peel myself out of the bed, pour a bowl of water over my head and start walking towards the office. I quickly scan the fifty-odd emails, all either updates from UN cluster meetings or requests from other NGOs and join Carlos, the head of the emergency relief team, to discuss the relevant issues of the day. After that I make sure the newly arrived SOS co-workers from other countries have everything they need. Then I head out to the UN airport, where many UN bodies have set up their headquarters. One of them is the Logistics Cluster, relevant to me because of the tranports I have to organise frequently. I speak about the emergency relief goods stocked in the warehouse of the WFP to Cristophe, a Frenchman, and Mike, from Britain. The World Food Programme lends us two trucks to transfer the goods (today, it's 5,000 sleeping bags) to the village. From the airport I drive back to the village, which can take anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour, depending on traffic conditions. In the meantime, my colleagues from German Help have contacted us and confirmed they would fly in 600 kilos of noodles as well as four members of a Spanish foundation by helicopter.

As I bring Gustavo the 5,000 sleeping bags and huge amounts of food, he sighs in exhaustion. Gustavo is in charge of stocking the goods, and he is using the school building for storage, since we don't have an actual warehouse and there never seems to be enough space. Despite the difficulties, we find a solution for the storage of the goods and I tell him when the trucks will be arriving. I head back to the airport and into the warehouse, where I am loudly and cheerfully greeted by the 50 Haitian workers there. I show them the goods that need to be loaded onto the trucks, then drive back to the village ahead of the truck drivers, to make sure they find it.

We get to the village right on time, the helicopter is just landing and I just barely make it over to greet our guests. After a tour of the village and a brief conversation, they promise to supply us with medicine and food. I am relieved, but don't have time to dwell on these good news, since it's 06:00 PM and I need to get back to the airport as soon as possible, in fact, I'm late already. Frantically, I try to get a car, but they're all out at the community centres. But I'm in luck: it turns out the helicopter has to return to the airport for fuel and the pilot offers me a ride. Once there, I talk to Veronica (somehow everyone seems to be on first-name terms), who is in charge of the Food Cluster: We discuss how we might be included in the planned UN programme "Food for Schoolchildren", but we disagree on details, so she offers me 15 tons of army food for the meantime. I guide the drivers through the traffic again, which this time includes five cows who refuse to leave their position in the middle of the road, which means it's 8 PM by the time we get back to the village. The teenagers of the village lend us a hand unloading the goods and the trucks are empty in no time flat. I haven't eaten all day, so I devour the army rations in seconds and go to join the day's final meeting. Carlos thanks us all for our commitment and dismisses us with a few rallying calls. Back in the office we write a budget plan for the donations of the Spaniards. It's midnight now, I've finished my blog entry and it's time to go to bed - the cock will be up well before me again.