The first morning when the actual simulation for the participants were to take place, we experienced a thunderstorm which was hammering the walls of our sleeping quarters from 0300hrs. Very heavy rain and ground had started to become muddy.
As the bed was less than comfortable, I couldn't sleep much and woke up at 0530hrs to shower. That was definitely a good idea as the shower ran out of hot water later on and the ladies had to shower in cold water, that's a certainly good wake up call.
The intention of this training was to encourage initiative and spontaneous thinking that includes the team finding their own way to their hotel when they arrived at the airport for the first night. They we given their cars and equipments needed, GPS and they were supposed to find their own way to the hotel and today their own way to their base of operations. It seemed tougher than many thought as a group lost their way and arrived their destination a few hours late.
When they finally arrived, the entire group to start building their own sleeping quarters. Piles of pre-fabricated units must be assembled if they want to have a place to sleep that night. They were given a short instructions from a WFP staff and then they were left alone to put the unit together. Of course the WFP staff did help as it was raining, the ground was muddy and all of them were soaking wet. This was certainly quite a challenge for them. In the next coming days, besides building their own sleeping quarters they have to deal with angry and screaming government officials, road blocks, terrorist situations and preparing the "Concerpt of Operations (ConOps)" and "Situation Reports (SitReps)" which could take them hours into the night.
This simulatino would be tougher than real life situation. This gives the trainees a chance to work under extreme circumstances thus when they are out in the field, they manage situations better.
They received more than 30 emails a day where they have to analyse datas, emails from the government, requests from humanitarian organisations, pre-releases, government advises and a lot of other documents. They have to sift through these emails and attachments to pick-out relevant informatiion for ConOps and SitReps.
The Cluster meetings were not any better as the facilitators, playing their roles as the humanitarian organisations were "hammering" the leader and participants with questions which would help them develop the 2 documents better and improve the quality of these documents. The questions were tough, the way they present the questions undermine the trainees but it helps them manage difficult situations and understand the severity of the situation better. During an emergency, all humanitarian organisations want they voices heard and they have a lot of life saving aid coming into the disaster countries thus prioritizing these incoming goods would help reduce congestions and pacify the humanitarian organisations and their donors.
The days were very long as we wake up as early as 0600hrs and end as late as 2300hrs and sometimes later. Other facilitators have to be around just in case the trainees needed more information which on they could give.
As the facilitator representing the LET, we have little influence/effect in the simulations except to have a much clearer understanding of how disasters are managed by the cluster and how we can be involved in the initial discussions and decide on how much we would be involved in future simulations and actual disaster. As this is the first time we were involved in this training, it's a good chance for us to engage ourselves deeper into the simulation exercises and the network with the various humanitarian organisations which are part of the global logistics cluster. These are real faces of people whom we or our emergency responders from the LET will meet when they are out in the field. I am glad we could tell them more about the LET for their better understanding of what we do and what we stand for.
This has been a humbling few days and I hope to continue encouraging the other team members in the LET to participate in future training both as participants and facilitators.