7:45 – I leave the JEN compound to go to the Shelter Cluster Meeting that will be held in Log Base, a UN camp in Port au Prince at 8:30. On Sunday this trip would take 10 minutes, but during the week it’s more difficult to estimate.
8:40 – I finally reach the meeting, running a little bit late. I am not the last one but there were some UN vehicles that prevented us to drive for few long minutes on the way, in front of the US Embassy.
9:55 – Meeting and side-meetings in log base are ending. I’m now going to Leogane to assist the Water and Sanitation and Hygiene meeting, to be held at noon.
11:35 – I reach the newly built and soon-to-be moody UN camps in Leogane. The trip took 1 hour and a half, which is not so bad. My colleagues, who are traveling everyday to Grand Goave, our activity site, few kilometers even farther than Leogane, must spend between 2 hours and 2 hours and a half for each travel. This means 4 to 5 hours per day in cars, just going to work.
13:45 – Meeting and side-meeting ended, I call the team and go to meet them informally for few minutes on the way to Grand Goave. We have some information to exchange and I got a new map from OCHA, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that can be useful for us.
14:15 – on my way back to Port au Prince.
17:00 – I finally reach our compound, with only a 15 minutes stop on the way back to try getting some material at the UN camps, which is located on the way. I spent 9:15 out of the office, to participate in 2 meetings, of little more than one hour each.
18:15 – the team comes back from the field. They left at 6:45 this morning. Now our local colleagues have to go home from the JEN compound. Between 1 and 2 hours of tap-tap’s trip (Tap Tap is a small local bus that make your butt feeling “tap-tap” – cf. picture below). They already spent approximately 5 hours in the cars, just to go and return from the evaluation they conducted today.
I spend half of the week losing time in cars, and so did the field team. .Such a situation is common in areas with high population density and especially after damaging earthquakes. But the Haitian case is, one more time, perhaps one of the worst I have ever encountered. However, efforts are necessary to realize our assistance. Because in participating these coordination meetings, we can understand the local needs, coordinate our activities with other active NGOs in the area, exchange valuable information with NGOs and UN related agencies, all in order to support the people more efficiently. It needs to be emphasized that these efforts are as important as the actual distribution of goods in our activity sites.
During some crowded traffic jams, I sometimes thought of buying a motorcycle. That could make us gain some time at Port au Prince’s level, but only if we arrive safely. One friend of mine, who was driving a motorcycle here, was comparing that to a video game: you have to avoid a guy, then a woman, then a car, then a hole in the road and some children, and then you enter in a smoky area with parked cars after a curve… nice when you are comfortably sitting on your sofa. Less nice when the only points you could score are stitches In JEN, we are not to use motorcycles for reasons of safety.
What is necessary in such conditions is to secure the safety of our staffs, and do the maximum we can at all time. Efforts shall be continued for further assistance!