19 December 2010

Bienvenue à Haïti

View from my balcony - it's raining...
So, My first week in Haiti has come and gone quickly. And an interesting one it was. I will admit that I mostly saw the office and home - but such is life when you are brought into a job just as everyone is leaving for Christmas break, and when every day is a question mark because you never know what the security situation is...

Here are a few observations / stories:

 - I am one of two staff here now dedicated to the Cholera response. This means my job will not just be "Knowledge Management" but will also include whatever needs to get done regarding the response. But hey, I am looking forward to it. I like being a catch-all.
 - Everyone here says the staff are awesome. I am finding out that this is VERY true! At work, I sit in the programming section, which is very women-heavy (actually the whole response is), and there are times when we are just sitting around laughing, or complaining about work, or freaking out together about different things. Its good. I know I am going to enjoy my co-workers
 - I have gotten to get out a bit this week - Wednesday night went out for pizza and drinks, Friday night went out dancing, Saturday went to an impromptu Christmas / dance party. Everyone here loves dancing. I love dancing. Its a great fit. :)
 - Depending on the security situation, I am thinking about trying to go to the beach for Christmas. Or sometime during the Christmas break. What I didn't know until I arrived here was that the office will be closed from 23 Dec - 2 Jan. I know I will still work during that time, but hey, that leaves extra time to spend doing something else. Plus I know I need to get out more.
 - I got my first mosquito bite. It itches. And No, I am not worried I have malaria.
 - Its actually quite cooler here than you would expect. Maybe mid-70sF/high 20sC. Cool enough for a light sweater. And for snuggling up at night under the covers. I like covers. 
 - I miss cooking. We have a housekeeper and she cooks us breakfast and dinner. Its nice to have something available when I get home, but at the same time, I miss cooking. She doesn't come on Sundays, so today I get to make myself dinner. I am soooo looking forward to that. Don't know what I will cook yet. 
 - When we went out dancing on Friday night, I learned something new about 'street politics' in Haiti. We had to park on the street, and as we approached the club, I noticed many Haitian men out and about. They were directing us to where to park. Then, as we got out, the one who was directing us told us his name. You see, he will watch our car for us while we were inside to make sure nothing happened to it. And at the end of the night, as we left, we found him and gave him some cash for his work. You see, I have noticed in my limited interaction with the Haitian population, that they don't just want a hand-out. They want to do something for that money. Like watching our cars, or carrying our bags at the airport. I have to say, I appreciate that. I think people in the West get this view of people living in poverty that all they want is some money, but that they are not willing to work hard for it. This is very untrue, at least with the limited interactions that I have had in different countries. Yes, there are still beggars and street children, but overall, they do something to make money, not just sit and wait for someone to give it to them. Entreprenuership spirit? Maybe. But good on them.

After next week, I will hopefully have seen a bit more than just my house and the office. But I am still so glad to be here. 

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