27 January 2011

Days Like These...

Sometimes you just have those days. Days where nothing seems to go right. For me, that day is today. But at the same time, I am un-phased by it. I find it actually quite amusing! 

I woke up this morning to a lovely sounding alarm (not!) at 5:30am. This is because my day at the office was scheduled to start at 7 with a 2-hour advanced French class. I roll out of bed, thankful that the electricity is working so I don't have to be bothered by telling our security guards to turn on the generator, and head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Mid brush, the water runs out. Oh no! Thank goodness I keep a bottle of water under the sink! But today is a'washing hair' day. And yep, its out all over the house. Crap. Looks like no shower for me. And that would have been so lovely, so early in the morning. Thankfully bottled water can be used to wash a little...

My flatmate decides to not come with me at this time, in order to get more sleep (jealous). Hey, at least its kinda fun driving a landrover by myself. Might have been a little bit of car dancing... 

Show up for French, 1 other student shows up. We sit for 30min and nothing. No teacher. No other students. Gah! So early for no reason! Ugh. Well, at least I got to have plenty of coffee...

Go to my desk. Start work. Headphones in, as they help me concentrate. But wait! I can't hear the words anymore. That's odd. Oh wait. My headphones which have been threatening to break for a while have actually broken. Ugh. And no where to get headphones in Haiti! (or at least they would be super expensive). Will I have to survive without them until the end of March when I go to LA??? Oh wait, colleague is leaving today to DC for the weekend and she graciously agrees to buy me a cheap pair at Target or CVS or something. Score! 

Gotta 'run errands' around the office. Stop by to chat with someone and complain about my headphones. Wait! He just happens to have an extra (crappy) pair. But hey, they work! Awesome! Will last me until my new cheap pair comes! Freak yeah!

Still. At the same time, I really just wish I was doing this again:
Turks & Caicos last weekend. *Post coming soon
So, today, everything has gone wrong. BUT at the same time, everything has gone right too...

Not bad :)

16 January 2011

Some super smart decisions were made this week...

Super smart decisions like deciding to stay out until 2am on Thursday night because my old boss was in town, when I had my alarm set for 5:30am the next day because I had to be at the office early. Yep, smart decisions like those. But it was a good night and it was great to catch up with people from the past.

So, this past Wednesday was the 1-year anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake. On 12 January 2010, a 7.0 earthquake struck just outside of Port-au-Prince causing massive destruction and displacing over a million. 

Now, 1 year later, 800,000 people are still displaced and a cholera epidemic has struck the country. But that does not mean that there was not extensive amounts of work done in this past year. Despite all the media criticising our response saying it was too slow, that cholera should not have happened, that we should learn from other emergencies, being here I can see how difficult it is to get things done. Especially in this insecure political climate. Development is not some easy formula and if you want to fix one thing (such as getting rid of cholera), you have to fix lots of things (like the sewage system - which should be the government's or corporation's responsibility; depending on who owns them). Its a slow, long, arduous process and is not something that can be easily measured in a year.

Houses in Port-au-Prince's hills
In my humble opinion, we are doing some actually very great work in response to the cholera epidemic. Cholera is a fierce disease; it can take a life in less than half a day. But when you look at our (as in all NGOs) response, yes people are getting cholera, but not many are dying from it. Which says something about our treatment. And in the North of Haiti as well as in PaP, transmission of cholera is decreasing, which means that we are doing something right with our hygiene promotion...

Anyway, this week was a busy week for lots of people because of the 1-year anniversary. Wednesday, the office was closed in remembrance of last year, and we had lots of visitors doing field visits. My week was spent working, of course, with very little socialising. Except for my super smart decision Thursday night. haha. 

My Friday was spent mostly in a car, taking a trip out to our activities at the Border, where we have a CTC - Cholera Treatment Centre - as well as some hygiene promotion activities. It was great to get out and see some of the amazing work we are doing. Although I was exhausted by the end of the day, due to lack of sleep... I am trying to get out of the office as much as I can. This helps with relationships with people, as well as just appreciating the work we are doing. 

Our CTC at the Border
All in a week's work. 1-year anniversaries, visits from Sean Penn and Bill Clinton (my flatmate saw them at the Lebanese restaurant here), trips out to the field, catching up with an old boss. Someone I was talking to this week said that their first field experience was in Haiti and they have felt this connection to the place ever since then. I have a feeling that this will happen to myself as well. Haiti is definitely growing on me...

PS. other actual smart decisions were made this week. Like taking next weekend to go to Turks and Caicos for instance. And other work-related ones of course...

The Beauty Outside of Port-au-Prince

09 January 2011

A Little Bit Tanner; More at Home

Well, it's been a while since I have sent an update and oh what a while it has been... I last left you on New Year's Eve. Well since then, I have (as the blog title describes) gotten a little bit tanner and am more at home...in many senses of the word. 

But first the tan part. For New Year's Eve, I desperately wanted to get out of PaP and go to the beach. However, this was not to be so, as security was only cleared New Year's eve day. However our curfew was extended to 2am, thankfully (should get more into the curfew stuff in another post, methinks). So, NYE was spent with most of WV (and a little bit of Concern Worldwide) at 2 separate clubs. We went to the first one because we did not want to go to the 'same old, same old' (not that any of it is old for me yet haha). They had a live band, which the idea of sounded good. When said band turned out to be reggae, mj included, we all non-reggae lovers decided that 'same old same old' was good enough for us. So off to the dance club we headed and dance we did. It was a great night, ending at a teeny-weeny bit past curfew (shhh). 

However New Year's Day was not spent sleeping till all hours of the afternoon like normal people. There was a small protest scheduled to take place at 10am, so a small group of us decided to get out of town at 9am and head to the beach overnight. And it was so lovely. New Years was spent swimming in the warm Caribbean water, drinking rum slushies while lounging on the beach. We were all still exhausted from NYE, so we called it a night early after a few games of Texas Hold'Em, waking up early enough for a long walk on the beach in the cool morning air. Sunday, the day after, was spent lounging by the pool, swimming laps, playing beach volleyball and of course the warm turquoise water called to me for another swim as well. All home in time to fit in some work on Sunday evening. What a great weekend. 

The reason I wanted to fit in some work on Sunday night was because this week was the first full week back in the office and I knew it would be a busy one. But a good one. The week was spent in front of a laptop, networking with people I had either not met before, or people who had been gone over Christmas break. And I started to realise that coming when I did, post-lockdown, pre-Christmas, prevented me from getting into my groove. I was lonely; I displayed a lack of motivation for my job and an agressiveness for all other jobs which was unlike me; I think I was not completely myself. 

That is now changing. I am getting into the groove at work and discovering that I actually really enjoy being a knowledge manager. I just moved into my own house today, shared with 4 other WV colleagues. It is a new house - well, new to WV - and is so massive, it has 3 dining rooms. Seriously. But I have my own room (which is awesome btw) and am now getting into the groove. I am so glad I had that time over Christmas, but am so glad its past as well.
Haiti is looking to be a great time:
- Hikes are planned (well, more hikes...an 8k walk at 6:30am is actually quite spectacular)
- Housewarming party anyone?
- A weekend trip to Turks & Caicos is in the works in a few weeks time...
Loving Haiti this week and so glad that I am.