All posts tagged: Haiti

Twenty hours in transit: Haiti to Los Angeles

Despite the many wonderful people I met in Haiti, the passionate development workers of the Communitaire, the committed local project leaders, and let’s not forget all 32 incredible children of the SMDT orphanage, I’m quite happy when my time in Haiti comes to an end. Although I enjoyed my work there, it’s not a very easy place to operate in. Every day I had to make the decision between being uncomfortably hot or eaten alive by mosquitos. I would always choose the latter, and curse myself later in the evening as I tossed and turned in my bed, the dozen or so new bites swollen and ablaze around my ankles. Semone, one of my new friends from the Communitaire, observed that the climate in Haiti just doesn’t seem to agree with me. And the climate wasn’t our only restriction. Feeling limited by our lack of language skills and not wanting to put our personal safety at risk, our excursions outside of the security of the Communitaire were infrequent, and those that there were needed laborious …

It’s my birthday and I can cry if I want to – or, in fact, do whatever I feel like

This time last year I decided to celebrate my 25th birthday with a job interview. It was for a promotion within my team, which I felt obliged rather than inclined to apply for and, rather unexpectedly, I got the job. A year later I’m sitting in the persistent heat of Port-Au-Prince in the relatively temperate shade of a hammock-slung tree, discussing social media strategy with the director of a local orphanage. Although it took a number of punishing life events for this change to come about, I feel the benefits of that change pertinently, not only in place, but in entire philosophy. There’s something so powerfully brainwashing about the English school system, mirrored I’m sure by many education systems around the world. There was such a strong focus in my school on securing a prodigious place at university. This ladder was presented to us from a young age, each wrung a new set of qualifications, from GCSEs onwards, all with the ultimate goal of a rewarding life-long career. But it’s only as I reach my …

An orphanage and an English school: project visits in Port-Au-Prince

Imagine wondering how you’re going to feed 32 children every week? As far as the mission of his charity is concerned, Carlo’s is quite simple: care for the needs of the children who call the SMDT orphanage in Port-Au-Prince their home. The orphanage, which stands for Sant Mete Men Pou Defann Dwa Timoun or Hands Together to Defend the Right of Children, was founded by a pastor a number of years ago, but he was killed in the 2010 earthquake and the building was destroyed. Carlo’s mum took over, and Carlo has now stepped in as Director. We’re here representing Global Giving, but we already know this is going to be a very different kind of visit. In contrast to the larger organisations we’ve so far evaluated, talking to Carlo about issues such as governance or internal communications wouldn’t make much sense. I’m even nervous talking to him about social media, as how could this ever be a priority for him above the day-to-day care of the children? Carlo understands though. He understands the long-term potential …

Port-Au-Prince five years on: the road to recovery

I have a strange and accidental habit of visiting the sites of major disasters. In 2005 I went to Sri Lanka, just six months after its coasts were desecrated by the tsunami. In 2011, I spent a week in Christchurch, New Zealand not long after the town was completely destroyed by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. And this year, Haiti was chosen as part of my Global Giving field evaluation itinerary, five years after it lost nearly 100,000 lives to an earthquake of its own. I also had the great opportunity earlier this year to be able to work at the offices of the Disasters Emergency Committee in London, supporting them with social media as they launched the Nepal Earthquake Appeal. Although I may have been close to disaster sites in the past, this was the first time I was able to see the relief effort first hand, from the incredible outpouring of generosity from those across the world to the amazing life-saving work taking place out in the field. But what was so interesting about the …

This is Haiti: culture shock part two

After a week of elevated alcohol levels and little sleep to be found between late nights and the noisy fellow occupants of our 12-bed dorm room, I’m not in the best state of mind as we leave Miami. After being let down by extremely unreliable friends and Wi-Fi networks, I spent the final evening drinking alone in a bar, indulging a hormone-induced self-pity. Luckily I made friends with the barman who delighted in calling me Emily Rose in a carrying voice and topping up my glass. He was appalled at the very idea of a hostel and offered for me to stay with him when I next come to the city. Our flight is early the next morning, which gives me just three hours to struggle with sleep beneath our ferocious air conditioning before I’m released by my alarm and we head to the airport. I spend the journey semi-conscious, waking only to perform the tedious procedures demanded of me by airport staff, largely oblivious to my surroundings. I didn’t really know what to expect …