cyclone photo blog (very tardy)

14 April 2008 Comments

finally, a proper cyclone entry.  only 3 months late!  way to go me!  to make up for the tardiness, i'm gonna make this super long.  so i'll understand if you only want to look at pictures. i can be very verbose.

so this is going to be about the trip to galachipa, a town in southern bangladesh located in a region heavily populated with chors - which are small island like patches of land that suffer quite a bit of flooding at the best of times, and were quite badly hit by the cyclone.around the chors, we distributed thousands of NFI kits. NFI stands for non-food items, and as the name suggests, the items can refer to a number of goods that aren't food.  one common nfi is a blanket.  cyclone sidr hit right before bangladesh gets cold.  and our mothers have all been correct telling us to button up when it's cold.  blankets are important for keeping warm in the winter, otherwise it's easier to get ill.

what you can see in the photo below is 3000 blankets.  what you can't see in this photo are the other goods that went into the household kids - candles and matches, cooking pots, soap and some other necessities that were meant to keep a family warm, clean and able to cook food - all important ways to stay healthy.

next up is a photo of the supply logistician that got flown in for the emergency.  it's funny, because when you work for msf you work in these teams and become so close to people and you wonder if you'll see them again.  and so when they show up in your next mission, it's so awesome!  case in point, lori and i worked together in sudan, and we got to do it again in bangladesh.  huzzah!  here we have just finished a nutritious dinner of fried bread stuffed with lentils.  mmmmm.  we're doing our evening decompression on the patio before it's off to bed.

as november flew into december, the capital office was in full swing trying to support three projects instead of our usual one, and working like mad (see earlier reference to dinner being fried food).  but i realised one day that i was needed in galachipa to give the administrator a hand, and make sure our finances/admin etc was all in order.  so away i went to the southern coast, where there are even more boats then i'm used to seeing.

i was travelling in a pickup, but the most common method of travel down there appears to be motorcycles - which after a cyclone is handy because they can manuever around trees and other debris on the road.  i would feel beter if the women riding behind the driver would wear helmets though.  sigh. (hmm.. you can barely see her in this photo)
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this type of thing is why i want them to wear helmets.  and in the cars, seatbelts.  and maybe knee and elbow pads and a neck brace or something.  perhaps people should only travel coccooned in duvets and bubblewrap.  yes.  that's it.

ah yes, the ferries.  seriously good stuff here.  anyone know the needles ferry?  it's like that but somehow more trucks.  somewhat claustaphobic inside the car - but outside was all exhaust.  best place to be was the front of the ferry, standing by the ledge.

or perhaps running around the ferry taking pictures of people's bicycles as i seem to have preferred.

and here we have a gaggle of children that hung out with me while i waited for one of the ferries (there were many - many ferries, many children).  they ended up taking the ferry ride with me too.  they seemed totally entertained by me, and they looooooved getting their pictures taken.  love the age of digital cameras.  nothing creates a fit of laughter in the kids like seeing themselves on the screen.

on the big ferry i was invited to the steering place (anyone nautical enough to tell me what the room is called with the big wheel thing?)  i didn't understand why i was invited, and kind of ignored the invitation, until i realised that everywhere i went on this ferry, there were men folk wanting to take my picture.  um.  it was strange like, really unnerving and specific to this ferry (hadn't happened on the previous 18 or so...) eventually, i decided to cancel the media scrum and stop clogging up the balconies and i went to sit on one of the seats in the steering room place.  there was a guy in there taking my picture too, but i decided one guy was easier than 30.  and now i got to take some pictures. i like this one.

finally, we got as close to galachipa as we would with the pickup.  the final leg of the journey would be by boat.  teensy little boats with loooots of people and only one silly foreigner with a heavy pack on her shoulders.  oh yes, and the foreigner was wearing sandles.  slippery sandles.  her more practical shoes were in the bottom of the backpack.

very happy to report i did not fall in,and only looked slightly ridiculous going from pier to boat.

yup, i'm standing at the front of the boat.  can you see galachipa on the other side?

now i'm in galachipa.  and i'm not going to show a picture of the office, because apparently i didn't feel it was very exciting (as i didn't take any pictures).  the admin there was doing a good job getting it set up, and we spent 2 days solid in that room getting all the systems up to spec and worked out.  we worked from dawn until a few hours before the next dawn, surviving off instant coffee and sweet biscuits.  when i did take the occasional walk around the hotel i could appreciate the view.  it was a motel-style set up, and we had a 'kitchen' all worked out on the roof - complete with tables and chairs to eat.  the view was pretty awesome, as you can see below

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but yes, exciting two days of reciepts, spreadsheets, office supplies and the occasional strech of legs.  the day i left i awoke at dawn again to catch the boat back across the river.

and it was a beautiful morning.

so there you go, a nice little photo blog about my trip to the south.  and now, the obligatory photo for mom... sorry it's such a giant picture of my forehead.  spots and all.

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ciao,
j