The Big Orange?
Almost immediately upon my return from Afghanistan, I was receiving offers on new opportunities. Carmen had contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a three-month mission in Yemen. Being the first offer before the big orange, I had accepted. Anything was better than going back to being a basic security guard. My palate was craving the global opportunities like a hungry Pit-bull.
Not a day after I had accepted the offer of Yemen did I get a call from Brendan at World Vision. Recall he had called me in the early hours while I was in Afghanistan. We discussed his needs for a longer-term security manager in Haiti. The offer was for a one-year contract based in Petionville. I appreciated the length as it would have been a better offer and closer to my family. However, the salary was below what I was offered for Yemen.
Advising Brendan that World Vision’s proposal was less than that of CARE, I politely declined his offer. At the same time, I had received two other offers from Samaritans Purse and the Canadian Red Cross. It was nice to be in demand and knowing that I have been making a solid impression. Still set on the Yemen contract, I had a bit of time.
Having disregarded the World Vision offer and organizing for Yemen, I received another call from Brendan the following day. I was informed that World Vision was resolute to contract me. World Vision would match the rate of CARE. Still, since it was a year away from my family, I was interested to see how I could sweeten the pot.
After some negotiating, the agreement with World Vision would be one year at the same rate as CARE. R&R would be every six weeks paid with a return home every three months. This seemed like a good deal as I could fly my then significant other to a half-way point every 6 weeks (Florida). This was much more than I had had in the previous 18 months.
Following that customary family discussion before any decision, it was certain that Haiti and World Vision was the best option. I called Carmen at CARE and informed her that I would be passing on the Yemen mission. World Vision would be my next mission in Haiti starting on May 1, 2010. Brendan would not be there to perform a handover, but reassured me that the team in place would provide me with everything.
As you may be aware, World Vision is a large Christian NGO. There were certain requirements that one must pass to actually be hired. The biggest one being proving your faith. At the time, being lapsed, I was not sure how this would go. In hind sight, seems there are more lapsed in World Vision. Excited, I had no idea how big this organization was, but would definitely learn.
Looking forward to returning to Haiti and contract in hand, I was set to depart on May 1. This was going to be a great experience with many new challenges. The new task now was…how does one pack for a year away! Deciding to pack moderately and lightly was my thinking. If I needed anything, I could get it in six weeks during my R&R.
On May 1 I once again was traveling. Having only been home from Afghanistan just a week, I was off. Arriving in Haiti just after the noon hour, I was greeted by three expats. They would drive me to my new accommodation in Petionville. The apartment was located in GN Plaza, in the same building as the Mexican Embassy. Quickly introduced to my new digs, I arrived to my first crisis.
Crisis on Arrival
Not enough time to settle and unpack and the first crisis unfolded. I was summoned to the office by the response manager, JC and the crisis management team. When I arrived at the office, the introductions were very brief. We had a kidnapping staring at us that needed attention. There it is, my baptism into World Vision.
I had yet to meet my team and I was thrown right into crisis management. The evening prior to my arrival, a staff member’s home was broken into. The thieves, not finding anything worthwhile to steal, saw the baby. In Haiti, this has great value and the baby was taken. Realistically, World Vision did not have a duty of care at this level, or so I was told.
The only thing we could do was to offer up support. If demands were made, we would be able to assist with negotiations. Within a few hours of reviewing our position, the family decided that they did not want our support. Continuing to monitor was our only course of action.
In the end, a ransom was paid out, but the child was not returned. It is expected that the child was sold up to another gang. This is something that can go on several times. In this particular case, the child was never returned. Most likely, sold into some form of child slavery.
Back in my new apartment, I gave a lot of thought to the missing child. It was hard to escape my mind. What I needed was a calm voice, so I called home. It was refreshing being in the same zone for those reassuring moments.
Settling in, I was eager to start my first day at the office and meet my team. But first, I needed a shower and to get some food. My roommates invited me out for dinner and drinks (Christian?). The journey into World Vision was going to be a good road traveled. I knew I had made the right decision and was already starting to feel comfortable with my new colleagues.
Next – Word Vision Haiti – My Team