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Haiti Trip – Chloe’s last week

Posted by djazayeri on February 26, 2008

I just spent a short and hectic week in Haiti, getting to meet our new data manager Wislene, and doing some planning with Patrice, Chloe, and Louise, as we prepare for Chloe to leave us. We’ve always intended for the blan data manager position to be a temporary one. And Wislene seems very capable of taking over that role. But we did share a brief and heartfelt conversation: “I’m nervous.” “Me too.” Chloe, like Mary Montgomery before her, leaves some big shoes to fill.

My last trip to Haiti was a year ago, in February of 2007. Coming back exactly twelve months later gave me an opportunity to reflect on a few things:

We’ve come a long way in the last year
A year ago, Chloe wasted literally weeks every month comparing EMR-generated numbers numbers to the sites’ reported numbers, making sure that box 2 + box 3 = box 7 + box 8, and retyping all that into Excel.
Today the EMR just generates the Excel file with the right numbers. If that sounds a lot easier, it is.

Implementing new systems takes a lot of time
It took most of that intervening year to make all those changes, both on the programming end and the human end. You just have to accept that nothing is ever easy and quick, even obviously-beneficial changes.

The reporting system that Chloe, Mike, and I put together last year has changed everything
Really, it’s made all the difference. That and the countless hours that the Haitian data team has spent entering data.

Kompa dancing is fun
Not strictly related to the previous points, but it had to be mentioned. Someday I have to make it to Haiti for Carnival.

I feel confident
Perhaps I should be more worried, but I really am feeling confident that, if we can just get the Haitian team a few specific resources, they’ll have no problem doing an unexpected and very fast transition from having an expat data manager to doing that work within the team. A year ago I would have thought that was crazy talk. Did I mention we’ve come a long way in a year?

What was that about resources?
Funny you should ask: we need to get another couple data clerks, and a car.

As a side-note there have been two ground-shifting developments since my last Haiti trip:

  1. There’s cellphone coverage over the whole central plateau. On the downside I won’t be able to blame skype connections for my poor Creole skills when I talk to Wislene. There are probably upsides too.
  2. There’s a paved road up Mon Cabri. Remember that whole bit in Mountains Beyond Mountains about the dirt road? Well, it’s somewhat less true today.

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