The world is full of possibilities. Of course, one possibility is things will go wrong.
That's what happened yesterday, despite our best intentions and hardest work. On Friday, two days ago, we arranged with a food supplier to procure and deliver a truckload of dry food items — beans, vegetable oil, flour, salt, sugar and rice — to Port-au-Prince’s main hospital.
We'd also spoken with the hospital's kitchen crew to begin preparing for the food we were delivering for patients and staff. So early Saturday morning two of us — program officer Jenny Vaughan and I — arrived at one of the supplier's food warehouses to take delivery of more than 10 tons of food.
However, once there, we were told that Mercy Corps wasn't on the procurement list and that we would have to go to the United Nations compound to fill out, get and bring the necessary paperwork.
After some spirited conversation, we did just that. Jenny hurried around the compound, trying to find the right people and papers, and then collect the signatures that would free the food from the warehouse. We got back to the food supplier shortly after noon and then waited for a couple of hours for the truck to be loaded.
And then possibility — the wrong kind — struck again.
When the supplier checked the boxes and sacks of food, the numbers were all wrong. So we waited some more while some supplies were loaded off the truck, others were packed in, and it was all rearranged.
By that point, it was late afternoon, and we still had to go to another warehouse for almost 300 bags of rice. After a consultation with one of the logisticians at one of the food warehouses, who was a survivor himself, we decided it was too late in the day to truck this food all the way across the city and attempt delivery at the hospital. Security is still a major concern here.
And so, we made a hard decision. We would store the truckload of food at the UN compound for the night, where it would be safe.
We returned to the Mercy Corps base very tired and a bit defeated. But the morning brought the possibility of things would go better and we could indeed deliver the truckload of food to the hospital.
So we left bright and early to get to the rice warehouse to complete our order.
Dozens of trucks were lined up ahead of us. But we didn't hesitate at all this time. There's a fine line between patience and inaction. We jumped into action with both feet, both hands, all kinds of energy and the full force of our voices. Jenny kept engaging the warehouse staff while I helped ensure that our truck kept its place in line.
Our efforts paid off, and before noon we were driving across Port-au-Prince with a truckload of food. We made it safely to the hospital and went to inspect the space where the food would be stored. It was bare, with no boxes or bottles or even a single speck of food.
So with the help of U.S. troops, who guarded the truck, and kitchen staff, who unloaded it, we stocked the hospital pantry with provisions that will feed 1,000 people for two weeks.
The kitchen will spring back into life tomorrow. The patients and staff will receive hot meals for the first time since the earthquake.
Me, I wonder what they'll be cooking up. I guess that's a whole different kind of possibility — the good kind.