Experts, local CARE staff and community members make for success


by Steve Hollingworth, CARE USA COO and EVP, Global Operations

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I wanted to say a few words about our staff here in Haiti.

Sophie Perez is the country director. She is from France but she has a deep commitment to Haiti. She has lived here for nine years, and has in-depth knowledge of the country, the people and the customs. Her knowledge, sensitivity and experience here are invaluable. She has been joined by David Gazashvili. David is an expert in emergency response – ready to leave home at a moments notice. He comes from the Republic of Georgia and is now living in the state of Georgia. David came to set up our response team. This group is now in place, and includes 20 experts in logistics, water and sanitation, health, shelter, procurement, security and information technology. These are experts who work with CARE all over the world. It's a bit like a high school reunion here, with everyone's shared experiences from Banda Aceh, Pakistan, Darfur and other emergencies.

I can not emphasize how important this group is to CARE. They are experts in their field. But they know that the success of our response depends on them meshing with our Haitian staff – listening to their advice and direction, and following their lead on the best ways to work with the communities, local authorities, mayors and the Haitian civil defense.

Time and again, in the way CARE is successful in responding to emergencies, we find that we need to work alongside communities. They have resources. They have expertise and contacts to address their needs. Women play key role in CARE's relief efforts. Right now, you know that we've distributing PUR water purification sachets. The communities are receiving these sachets have identified women to train and motivate their neighbors to use the sachets correctly. Once, we put our water bladders in place, local committees take responsibility for the maintenance and refilling of them.

Involving the local community in emergency relief efforts – no matter where disaster strikes – allows people the chance to take back power and control of their lives. And that is one of the keys to successful relief and recovery efforts.

Experts, local CARE staff and community members make for success image 1

    CARE in Haiti Country Director Sophie Perez distributes aid to a mother with a newborn. Photo: 2010 Evelyn Hockstein/CARE