Sunday, January 17, 2010

thoughts on consolidated emergency response

it is sunday and i will get up to go to work tomorrow morning.  i will listen to the news about haiti and i will wish i could do more.  or just do something.

and throughout this, i understand what the humanitarian workers, that are no doubt flooding port au prince at this very moment, are feeling.  some of them will be exhilerated (rightly or wrongly), this is what they live for.  some of them will spend every waking moment thinking and planning and budgeting and proposal writing and liaising in hopes they can streamline the aid, money, food, water, volunteers, and other parties that will be flooding into the region.  and some will work their hearts out and spend their sunday afternoons at a pool because that is what they will need to do.  i know, because i have done it.

you wake up each morning, wondering what happened overnight, how many people died, how many people were displaced, and what the hell you can do to make one lick of difference in the grand scheme of things.  you realise that all you can do is what your role dictates and if you do that well, it might end up helping someone down the long line of humanitarian aid.

haiti is devastated, without a doubt.  but the reason it is so devastated is because even before this earthquake, there would have been a complete lack of infrastructure, governance systems, and sustainable economy that could withstand such a threat to its very existence.

part of me wishes that people cared as much as they do now on other days when people throughout the world are living day to day in poverty, finding ways to make it through and maintain their livelihoods.  i am not implying that people are unhappy or miserable or that their quality of life is linked inherently to their standard of life, but i am saying that i wish that people cared as much about others as they do right now.

i have considered giving to the haiti relief effort, but have decided against it.  not because i don't believe that the efforts will be effective or because i think my dollars will be squandered, but because i am going to devote my pennies and time to somethings that others might not be thinking of right now.  spreading the net, supporting local agencies building strong communities, and advocating for those who have been forced into work or sex that they never agreed to.  because i think that canadians and other country's nationals will be giving a lot right now and i am going to keep on the paths that i believe are worthy today and other emergency-free days.

but i would be lying if i said that a small part of me doesn't wish i was sitting in some sweltering office in the caribbean, writing project proposals that would be circulated throughout the donor community through the united nations consolidated appeals process or the emergency relief funds earmarked for such disasters as this.  because that is what i can do.

1 comment:

La Cabeza Grande said...

How incredibly thoughtful. And on point. The time to do something is before the major devastation hits, limiting the damage in the first place and making a rapid recovery a reality.