Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fuel shortage

There is a serious fuel shortage in Haiti.

This restricts our movements to what is totally necessary.

I know that sentence is not vague, but it is amazing to see what people think is necessary and what is not. One thing I have learned in the Red Cross is to S P E L L O U T what necessary means. Or even better, in an insecure environment, to spell out what common sense or precaution mean. Some people, are idiots.

I have learned to work with the LCDs in this world. I want to put that on my CV. It's a really important skill....and no, I am actually not being facetious about it.

And it's not about being an idiot, it's about communication and just being clear. Which, I think, is fair enough.

I heard about the fuel shortage and am weighing in my head how necessary my outing is tomorrow. Not very. I think we'll survive if I don't go to a coordination meeting or if we don't visit a site that really, I only REALLY must see before next Tuesday.

This time around, I have been able to drive around PaP and see stuff. I have not been to a camp yet...they are in fact, all over the place so it's not like you don't see them, but I know what you see on the outside, and there isn't much that you can see from the outside, it's totally different on the inside. I have heard, and seen photos, and there is no place to walk. People are jammed in next to each other. I would like to see a camp and be inside one, but there is no need for me to do that so I haven't gone yet (just for the fun of it). I feel like I understand that bit enough for the purposes of my being here and adding value.


I don't know how many of the staff that are working in the base camp or how many people who work for the Haitian Red Cross live in camps or outside of camps. I know them as the woman who sits at the reception who is a singer, the finance dude who is a music producer, a field officer who is a business administrator. I hang out with these guys over lunch, we email websites and music to each other, we chat in the hallways. I went to a party in Petionville the other day, (the posh area) and it was a mix of people, expats and Haitians. I could have been anywhere in the world (in an office, in a posh house). A very different world from the camps.

The streets, by the way, are TEEMING with buyers and sellers. TEEMING. A sea of people. Who may or may not be coming from the overflowing camps. It's not like you see someone on the street and think, you live in a camp. It's not even like people that you see in the camps look like they live in camps. What does someone who lives in a camp look like anyhow? The British Red Cross has this great T shirt, which I love wearing...look beyond the label. It's about refugees. It's about dehumanizing people. It's about not seeing the teacher, the civil servant, the engineer, music producer but instead, seeing someone in a camp and that is their identity.

I will get off my soap box.

I feel like I live in a bubble in the base camp. I feel like the people that I work with, the humanitarian community at large, areb living in a bubble of the camps.

I was talking to a friend and asked, what's the furthest place from Haiti?

His answer:

Haiti.

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