It's starting to feel very real that I'll be leaving Tacloban this time next Tuesday. It's crazy how quickly and slowly the time has passed at the same time. A whole bunch of colleagues have come down from Manila, and I haven't seen one of them since the last time he came...I would have thought it was two months ago, but it turns out it was four! Madness.
I had a debriefing with our response manager yesterday, and we talked through how the response has gone, the major challenges and major accomplishments. Seeing as I'd already spent three weeks in Cebu at the very start of the response before he'd arrived, I really struggled to remember what life was like in the days before Tacloban. But it didn't take long to remember the 17 hour days cooped up inside a hotel conference room, the fun I had hiding as many song titles as possible in situation reports (because I'm a professional....) and the camaraderie that forms so quickly when you spent so much time with motivated people.
In remembering my first days in Tacloban, I can't help but smile at the enthusiasm we had in over 100 volunteers who were distributing hygiene kits and managing huge cash for work and rice seed distribution projects, though still recovering from the typhoon themselves. We managed to recruit and retain most of these volunteers who are now working at a range of levels, developing new skills, and amazingly, retain the same sense of enthusiasm and excitement almost six months down the line. This is without a doubt the most inspiring office (ballroom) I've ever worked in.
And of course, it's been an opportunity to catch up with other international staff I've worked with before, and make new friends as well. I really learned a lot from our programme manager who was here for four months, he placed a lot of confidence in me and gave me the room to find my feet in management and also engaged me in areas outside my remit for my own development.
There has been a lot of stress, a lot of pressure and a lot of frustration, but there has also been a LOT of success, accomplishment, fun, friendship and karaoke (I think we've also done a lot to support the San Miguel corporation...). As my position has been made redundant this will be my last deployment with my current organisation, and I'm so glad to go out on such a high!