I normally like when it rains.
It reminds me of my early days as an aid worker in Southeast Asia.
Back then the rain was refreshing and cool. It made everything green. It made everything feel clean. The sound of rain on the roof was peaceful and relaxing. Rain meant that food will grow and that people would be able to feed their families.
The Mekong Delta can be incredibly beautiful in the rain.
As can the Caribbean.
* * *
18 March, 2010: It’s raining tonight, here in Port-au-Prince.
But tonight it’s not so beautiful. Instead it makes me feel as if the entire aid effort here is flagging.
It’s not just one or two NGOs. It’s not just the UN or the Government of Haiti.
It’s the entire aid effort.
We’re now eight weeks and four days after the earthquake and there are still people living under cardboard. And while I can understand “the system”, and I can get all of the complexity and nuance, the logistical challenges and security concerns – and those are all very real – I also can’t quite shake the feeling that we have basically let the people of Haiti down.
I can’t shake the feeling that in eight short weeks this emergency response has become mostly about coordination and minimum standards and matrixes. It has become about big grants and small grants, positioning and who’s going to be “prime” or “sub”. It has come to be about agency-to-agency partnerships. It’s about strategy and positioning and market-share. It’s worrying about the stance of this government or that, about MINUSTAH, about making it to important meetings. For goodness sake, it’s about land and the million impossible variables that go along with that…
And somehow it feels like it has all become less about actual people.
I know I keep writing this, and I’m sure you’re all sick of reading it… But I have to say it again:
People – not just one or two, but a lot of people – are wet, cold, and sleeping in the mud tonight. I feel like we’ve all let them down.
I remember Kompong Thom.
And right now it all just feels really wrong.