Monday, January 24, 2011

Haiti: My Work

I went to Haiti to intern with a Philadelphia-based non-profit called Explorers Sans Frontiers (ESF). Shonta, my boss, founded ESF about three years ago and the organization has been growing ever since. ESF brings teams of American students and professionals to underserved parts of the developing world. The programs integrate humanitarian service and cross-cultural education. Specific activities and the particular mix of service and exploration vary depending on the country and length of the trip. The main thing ESF does in Haiti is run medical clinics in underserved neighborhoods in Port-Au-Prince.

My title was Intern for Collaboration and Program Monitoring and Evaluation, and my primary responsibility was to help ESF develop collaborative partnerships with other NGOs. Additionally, I identified opportunities to begin monitoring and evaluating the impact of ESF’s work.

Since I arrived in Haiti midway through an ESF trip, I spent the first several days assisting the medical team and observing the implementation of ESF’s program from an impact assessment perspective. From then until I left Haiti, I spent my time visiting various organizations in Port-Au-Prince to interview their staff and observe their programs. Having absorbed as much information as possible, I created a report identifying potential partnership opportunities.

A typical day would begin with breakfast and internet time (if the electricity was up) while I waited for my colleagues to arrive. Rousevelt and Anderson are college students and ESF staff. They’re brothers, best friends, study-buddies, and completely inseparable. “The boys,” were my constant companions.

After they picked me up, the three of us would head out. Our day’s activities might include meeting with the director of an orphanage, visiting a mobile clinic one of our partner agencies was running, or attending a briefing on the Cholera outbreak at the Ministry of Public Health and Population. Because the communications infrastructure is unreliable, the professional culture prioritizes face to face meetings. Because it takes so long to get from one place to another, our daily agenda was of necessity quite short. Accomplishing two things in a day was productive. Three was outstanding.

After the boys escorted me home at the end of the day, I’d generally eat dinner, check email (if the electricity was up), and plan for the following day before going to bed.

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