2011 Canadian Tour Dates

Hello Ottawa

Hi, I’m Chris. I spent most of 2009 working for MSF as logistician in Papua New Guinea – see www.msf.ca/blogs/ChrisH . This summer I’m one of 4 logisticians working on the Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City Project and I’ll be keeping you up to date on what’s going on behind the scenes and inside my head via this blog.

I like working for MSF; it’s a little bit different from working anywhere else. One of the reasons for this is that when something needs to get done, it gets done and it gets done fast. When Cholera came to Papua New Guinea, I went to the bank, got a pocket full of cash and started buying everything that was needed to start building a Cholera Treatment Centre the same day. In about a day and a half we had a functioning CTC. One of the other things that’s good about MSF is what the French call “témoignage”. That’s telling people about what we see – or bearing witness. The roots of MSF is founded in the principle of témoignage. Most NGO’s are only able to operate by promising to get on with the important job of medical care and not speaking out about the failings of governments who may be complicit in violence and/or failing to intervene. But MSF are different and believe it to be our role to tell the world what we see, even if that means being critical of governments.

It is the principle of bearing witness that the Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City is all about. We believe that people should be made aware of the problems that refugees and internally displaced people face.

On Sunday I arrived in Toronto, one of 4 logisticians for this project. On Monday the core team met – some have been working on this project for months. We discussed the anticipated visitor numbers, the advertising (most of which has been donated for free) and everyone’s roles. Then we picked up the 5 vehicles we needed to move the team and the kit from Toronto to Ottawa. At the same time our Logistical Coordinator was in Chicago checking the 18-wheeler truck that is now on its way. After we did the project in Australia recently and our box of “landmines” created a little bit of a stir with Australian port authorities (who promptly closed the port and calling the bomb disposal squad) we now make sure that our papier-mâché landmines are made locally and not moved across borders.

So after 6 hours driving (I got to drive the biggest truck, so I’m very happy) we got to the student accommodation where our team will be based for the Ottawa leg. I’m quite amazed the resources that have been put into the project. Pleasingly a lot of it is funded by donations - all the air travel is done thanks to generous people who donate their air miles - but we will have 60 tour guides (all experienced MSF staff) a project coordinator, a deputy project coordinator and administrator, a guide team leader, an office administrator, someone working on advertising, a school liaison officer, a logistical coordinator and us 4 logisticians. In addition a bunch of friends of MSF will turn up to help up set things up. The Ottawa show opens on Thursday 13th May, so if you are in the area, swing by and say hello!