Lessons continue to be learned. Most are inspirational. Others are frustrating.
Take a look at the picture in this post. This is what happens when good intentions go awry. I’ve just met with the chief administrator of La Paix, a good-natured woman with ambitions for this place. She sees what can be. But she also sees what is. And she bemoans the fact that her hospital in particular and Haiti in general is a dumping ground for the world’s good intentions. (sidebar comment – that seasoned guy in this picture is Mike. He’s been working his butt off for two straight days to get this room sorted out. He has become one of my favourite people in the world.)
In one room alone, I came across boxes of supplies from Korea, Israel, Spain, the United States, and yes, from Canada. The staff here are overwhelmed with what shows up on their doorstep and much of it is not needed, expired, or not organized in a way that can be retrieved easily. Those who have spent a great time in “the field” tell me that the need to manage supplies effectively is common across the developing world. It was a mundane concept to me four days ago. Today I need no further convincing.
For our program here at La Paix, at least there is a solution in sight. We’re in the process of building a 3,500 square-foot warehouse where we can store needed supplies in an organized manner and train local staff in the art of inventory management.
But we still have to collectively deal with our Western predilection for sending “stuff” to the developed world just so we can feel good about it.