**If I was worn out when I wrote Saturday’s post, I am totally exhausted writing this one. Expect the number of typos to sky rocket. Sorry ’bout that**
The last three days, I’ve been supporting the U.S. government’s effort to aid the disaster response in Haiti. It has been an interesting, exhausting, frustrating, invigoration, and educational experience. I’ve learned one simple, seemingly obvious lesson: Relief work is hard.
I think we can all appreciate and understand how hard it is to work at a refuge camp, clinic, or food distribution center. I can only imagine the challenges relief workers on the ground face. Emotionally and physically, it must be exhausting.
Unfortunately for the field workers, the logistical/office bound aspects of relief work aren’t much easier. I spent almost thirty hours over the weekend trying to buy bulk quantities of essential non-food items and get them on to trucks bound for Haiti. We were finally able to make the purchases today, and the trucks will get out within the next 36 hours.
Just spending the money, buying the supplies we need, was a huge hassle. It involved innumerable phone calls to distributors and Costco-style box stores. I had to call and call and call to track down and manage quotes from close to ten different vendors. We ended up buying from four.
Tomorrow, I’m going back to Batey 8. I’m going to hug my dog, say hi to my friends, get clean clothes, and sleep in my bed. Wednesday I head out to Jimani, the main border crossing between the Santo Domingo and Port au Prince. I’ve finished my task at USAID, and it’s now time to start doing hands on stuff. The hospital there is desperately in need of support, and Creole translators in particular. My Creole isn’t that good, but it’s better than nothing. Peace Corps is sending four or five different volunteers and we’re each bringing bilingual community partners to help.
I guess I’ll get to find out just how hard the on the ground stuff really is.