Archive for the ‘Haiti’ Category

Haiti visit impressions & Volunteer Opportunity 4/2/10

April 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I returned Monday from 8 days in Haiti which was very valuable from the standpoint of having a better understanding of the situation on the ground and also having the opportunity to speak and meet with representatives of NGO’s ALAN has been working with.

A large part of the time was spent West of Port au Prince in Leogane, closer to the epicenter. An unexpected capstone for the visit was a 1:15 AM aftershock the last night which sent everyone scampering. Wisdom after the fact was that we should have known as every dog in the area had been going crazy until a half hour before the shock.

Hands On Disaster Relief (HODR had offered ALAN a base camp where I stayed most of the time. HODR’s operation in Leogane has evolved into what most of us would recognize as a not for profit 3PL. They have a campus that supports temporary and transitional housing development for OXFAM and CHF International, Hospital St. Croix support with warehousing and delivery of meds to the doctors, clearing of sites to accommodate replacement housing and soon 8 new warehouse tents to support the World Food Program & other efforts. HODR would benefit from an individual experienced in warehouse operations and logistics for the month of May. ALAN previously placed a logistics volunteer with CHF Intl., it was for him a transforming experience. I have stayed with and can speak to the caliber of the HODR group of volunteers and staff. This will be a great opportunity to make a difference and have an experience that will not be forgotten. Those with an interest should email ALAN VP Mark Richards at with a brief summary of their experience, the ALAN officers will be asked to screen interested parties. Both our previous Haiti volunteer and I will be glad to speak of our experiences and preparation for the trip.

Many thanks for your support of ALAN

Jock Menzies
President, ALAN

Haiti impressions

Picture WW II bombed out cities

Veiled in dust and acrid smoke from dusty roads, pulverized buildings, diesel fuel, and pervasive rubbish fires.

Choking on rubble and rude temporary housing both crowding the streets and any open ground they can find.

Littered with trash and garbage being picked over by people, dogs, goats and pigs.

Insane traffic; stopped in Port au Prince, racing and protected by horns but no seat belts outside of town; decorated by “Tap-Taps.” (brightly painted pick-up trucks with a cap and extended seating on the tail end)

Populated by hardworking and heartbroken volunteers; nationals surprising for their resilience, passivity, and good humor and wide eyed children with beautiful smiles who call “Hey-U”

It is clear that even before the earthquake supply chains were rude and life hard in most of Haiti


ALAN update March 19

March 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Feeding America warns of Mid-West flooding needs

Feeding America suggests there may be needs for donations of personal care items, cleaning and disinfecting products, and food items based on the likelihood of flooding in the Mid-West.

 Sanitation in the rainy season likely next Haiti issue

 ALAN VP Richard Sharpe attended a meeting Wednesday hosted by Safe America and Emory University organized to discuss the current gaps in the Haitian Disaster Relief efforts.  Multiple urgent needs were discussed including the need for shelter, especially as the Hurricane season approaches, water purification and child protection issues. 

  A CDC expert on disease control raised the issue of sanitation.  Make-shift latrines have been created in the temporary camps throughout the island and reports are that they are far from adequate.  This problem is only going to get worse once the rainy season starts which can lead to multiple catastrophic disease related outbreaks (dysentery, cholera, etc.).  With the people being confined to very little space in these camps, the situation being discussed has the making for the perfect storm. 

  We hope to identify what specific needs the above situation may require. As with many of the disaster related needs for Haiti, the timing for response is critical.

 ALAN in Haiti

 I will visit Haiti for a week starting this Sunday. The Hands on Disaster Response group ( offered ALAN a place to stay and base camp in Leogane. We have made contact with the Red Cross and several other NGO’s on the ground that I will visit. I also expect to attend the UN’s Logistics Cluster meetings.

 Academic community and ALAN

 Today ALAN VP Mark Richards and I participated in a conference call with the Supply Chain Institute and the Responsible Enterprise Institute of San Diego University. They wish to work with ALAN and other universities regarding humanitarian logistics.

 Tomorrow I participate in an all day meeting hosted by the Universities of Louisiana, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan State billed as a “Circle of Experts.” ALAN and representatives of FEMA, the American Red Cross, UPS, SYSCO, the Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies, the military (NORTHCOM) and the Aidmatrix Foundation will participate in this small group discussion

 Jock Menzies President

American Logistics Aid Network

“Why didn’t they…?” March 6

March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Especially since Hurricane Katrina the “Government,” FEMA, the military, USAID, and large NGO’s have faced this question. In considering this other questions must be addressed

  • “Could they?” Probably not.
  • “Should they? Yes and No.
  • “Would we want them to? No.
  • “What would it mean if they?” A step backwards.

 Thinking primarily about possible government roles I note the following;

  • Separations of power between national elements of government and states restrict when and how US agencies engage.
  • Government agencies are encumbered by mandated processes.
  • Coordination across governmental silos and political pressures are factors.
  • Unlike NGO’s the government can not ask for donations for its use.
  • Assets, human and otherwise, available from government agencies, play a valuable role.
  • Government structures help control, coordinate, organize and regulate NGO relief efforts.
  • Volunteers trained and operating within the frameworks offered by NGO’s could not be replicated by a standing or contracted force.
  • Were we to create the expectation that disaster response was “covered” by government agencies or contracted service providers we would tragically marginalize our NGO community.
  • It is the nature of disasters that no structure; public, non profit or private is a substitute for individual preparedness in the 1st days following an event.
  • The critical endpoint is to get communities back to self sufficiency. This happens when their structures are again in place and outside supports depart. Governmental structures have a way of persisting.
  • We would not want to bear the cost of setting aside 100% of the resources “just in case” and do better preparing for base case contingencies and planning to fill the gaps.

 The opportunity to draw of the resources of the Supply Chain community is critical. Once the initial impact has been absorbed a disaster is defined by and continues because of failed Supply Chains. Resilience is a function of being able to stand up alternatives rapidly. Studies have shown that just as there is the “magic hour” that the shock trauma medical field works within so is there a short period of time for the social and economic structures to be reestablished if a community is to recover.

 Work to date is about visibility & networks ALAN has:

  • Made connections between NGO’s and identified partnering opportunities
  • Researched and shared donation, commercial and hybrid options with NGO’s
  • Promoted donations to NGO’s with likely needs
  • Connected needs with donors
  • Provided an industry window for NGO’s and visa versa
  • Connected NGO’s to potential business partners, ideally local to the NGO
  • Made connections between individuals with operating responsibilities in the disaster area.

 ALAN has a start. We have a respected presence in the governmental agency and NGO worlds. We sit on a technical platform which continues to evolve and to be adopted in the US (now 46 states) and internationally. We have an incredible industry association base. We have the opportunity to serve those with needs and enrich those who participate. We have opportunities to do much more.

 Thanks for your help.

Jock Menzies, ALAN president

Haiti Update February 20

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Orphans transported. With the military airlift diminishing and the commercial capacity largely spoken for in the near term, we have been seeking “backhaul” opportunities from NGO’s active in Haiti. This is being done at the request of State Department and USAID representatives. Today it paid off with Corporate Aircraft Responding in Emergencies (CARE) offering transport for children and orphans on a donated 737 this afternoon, between 37 & 56 children will travel.

 Donations diminish. Needs continue, replenishment and recovery supply chains are just getting started, but the availability of donated services in particular is diminishing. This recurring phenomenon points to a system more like a marketplace than solely a donations mechanism.  The evolution in the need/donation pool is but one of the challenges to be thought through as the lessons learned and after action discussions begin.

 Regional networks. Also in the discussion phase is working with FEMA and the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) groups to build a template to engage ALAN on a regional basis. This backed up by the increasing adoption of the web portal technology will greatly leverage our ability to engage and make a difference in times of need.

 An ALAN volunteer in Haiti had this to say.

 “This past week has been one of the most challenging I’ve ever had. Trying to operate in a stable environment is easy but getting anything done in this environment is a challenge.

 I’ve been working with CHF International trying to setup the logistical system to handle the materials associated with a shelter building and rubble removal project that will employ 1500 people a day over 8 months and built over 5000 shelters. We’ve been having trouble finding warehouse space as looting is common but we’re working through it and collaboratively with other NGOs. I’ve been working through the UN Logistics Cluster with other organizations trying to move materials as efficient(ly) as possible and get them to the people of Haiti…

 I’ve also been working with the Aidmatrix; a US based non profit to implement a warehouse management system to handle the volume of materials required for the coming months. (ALAN’s technology partner)

 eing down here it makes me realize how good we have it in Canada. Sometime(s) we get frustrated but if we take a step back and compare; the people of Haiti really have lost everything even though they barely had anything to start. It’s a great feeling to see Canadian troops on the ground and help flowing in from all parts of the world. While the help has been considerable there are more hungry mouths than food…” Aaron Tshirhart, Suncor Energy volunteer in Haiti.

Thanks for your interest in ALAN

 Jock Menzies, ALAN president

Haiti update February 10

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

“I notified the hospital today, and they are very grateful to everyone who is making this happen.” – Angela Garcia, Deputy Director, Global Links.  Genco’s team only took a couple of hours to meet NGO Global Link’s urgent Pennsylvania-to-Florida truckload transportation need. Both are Pittsburgh based, and ALAN had the opportunity to play match maker.

Monday, within three hours of learning of a need, UPS picked up the five pallets of fire rescue gear in suburban Maryland to meet a C130 flight from Homestead AFB in Florida to Haiti. At 8:30 this morning they were coming off the truck at Homestead AFB.

ALAN-sourced volunteer, Aaron Tschirhart of Suncor Energy has been in the Dominican Republic since Sunday. Today, he is to be helicoptered into Haiti where he will be working with CHF International. Part of his effort includes reviewing web-based logistics support software offered by our technology partner Aidmatrix, whose COO and another teammate will also be in Haiti. He will be sending us reports.

Yesterday, ALAN VP Richard Sharpe, in person, and Jock Menzies, remotely, participated in a meeting at Emory University, Atlanta hosted by Emery and the SafeAmerica Foundation to discuss evolving needs and opportunities in Haiti recovery. The US Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center also participated.

Logistics are and will continue to be a major challenge for the NGO’s in Haiti.

  • There is very little donated air or sea lift capacity, understandable for industries economically challenged.
  • Ground transportation resources are limited.
  • Much of the port and road infrastructure remains compromised. It is projected that the Port au Prince port capacity will increase from the present 350 containers per day to 1500 per day by the beginning of next week.

 The ALAN network is helping out in the following ways:

  • Providing USAID and NGO’s information on air and sea lift capacity and contacts.
  • Connecting people on the ground who are working on supply chain problems.
  • Seeking sources of volunteers that may be needed (e.g. equipment maintenance and rigging as well as logistics).
  • Making donation or reduced-cost connections for specific needs.

Thanks for your interest in ALAN, take a look at posted needs, sort by category for simplicity by clicking that column heading. Posted Needs

If you are where the snow is falling stay warm

Jock Menzies, president, ALAN

ALAN Haiti update – 2/5

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

The UN’s One Response site is a good window on Haiti relief. It provides current information by “Cluster” e.g. logistics, shelter, health, etc.

Last night we got a message from a logistics volunteer whom ALAN connected with CHF International. He had just arrived in Santo Domingo and is on his way to Haiti for a month. We make new connections as events unfold, new associations take an interest in our work and we meet other groups doing great work. Corporate Aircraft Responding in Emergencies (CARE) is one example. We called on them to help an NGO early on in the Haiti effort. Volunteers, who are aviation professionals, present relief transportation needs to corporate and private plane owners who rise to the occasion.  

Today, recent donations that have flowed through the ALAN system will be posted for NGO’s active in Haiti to consider, including gloves, coveralls, masks, ladders and warehouse space. We will also post a series of transportation needs received.

In the next few days, USAID is planning calls with major business organizations regarding ongoing Haiti needs and plans to include ALAN. We have been very active in helping them access transportation resources and options for Haiti.

Please continue to visit and review posted need for connections.

Categories: Haiti Tags: , , , ,

Haiti Update – Feb. 3

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Yes, you can take it personally.

We think of supporting an organization which delivers needed assistance. At the end of that pipeline, a person, who has been empowered by the group he/she works with personally, makes a difference and is enriched by that opportunity.

The ALAN portal technology supports the opportunity for you to see a specific need, contact the individual on site who has posted the need (under “Details” next to a need) and use your network to meet that need.

When it works, it really works – as illustrated by the following update which we received yesterday:

“I want to let you know that the fire and rescue gear that you arranged to be trucked from Baltimore to Norfolk for shipment to Haiti on the USNS Comfort last April played a big role in the earthquake rescue effort. The gear was used night and day during the earthquake by Haitian fire fighters. In fact, they didn’t have much else. That stuff may not have gotten to Haiti but for you and your friends (or certainly would have cost a lot of money). So, please know that you played a part in helping these guys dig people out of the rubble and save lives. I’m in regular touch with the Chief of the Haitian rescue team in Port-au-Prince, who has also been coordinating with the US and other foreign rescue teams (including Fairfax County rescuers). The Haitian team’s heroic efforts after being first on the scene has yet to be told. Meanwhile, the fire fighters here in Montgomery County are gathering up more gear for another shipment soon,”

signed Ben Stubenberg, vice president, TractorShare.

So, please take the ALAN portal as your personal opportunity to make a difference. Look at NEEDS and think about who you might connect with one of them. It’s not about posting needs. It’s about individuals taking it personally.

Many thanks,
Jock Menzies
President, ALAN

Categories: Haiti Tags: , , ,