Twenty-four hours in my day

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This week has been busy and eventful. The events I alluded to in the previous blog post escalated and with thousands of displaced families just a few hours north of the city of Goma, it was time to take action.

I scoured the internet for media coverage, downloaded the most recent reports from the UN and from ALNAP (http://www.alnap.org), phoned our partner organisations in the area to gather as much information as possible and raise the alert to bring attention to the unfolding crisis .

When responding to an emergency, every hour counts. I juggled phone calls and emails to piece together a picture of the situation, and an hour later, arranged a face-to-face meeting with other agencies to prepare a coordinated response. We then received news that funding had been released, with the requirement to submit a proposal within 24 hours. I returned to my desk, already on the phone again to one of our partner organisations.

There was then a Skype call with the team in the UK, and a frantic race to translate the proposal template into French for our partner organisations to complete. A few more phone calls confirmed receipt of the documents and a tight deadline was set to send it in the next morning.

Early the next morning I began work on the proposal, adding in information as it trickled into my inbox and then picking up the phone to call for clarification or additional details. I had calls from other organisations who wanted to coordinate activities and budget requests, emails from the support team in the UK, and questions appearing on Skype. The clock was ticking ever closer to the deadline.

With one hour to go I had three phones balanced on my desk, as mine had already run out of phone credit. I checked and re-checked the budget, called to clarify a few last details from the partner and re-read the narrative description of the project to make sure it made sense. A last minute request came through from another partner just as I was about to hit ‘Send’. I rapidly made some quick changes and sent it on.

The team in the UK made the last edits as I checked details and added information by Skype. With the final few minutes to go I waited for the confirmation it had been submitted and sat back to take a deep breath and let the adrenaline subside.

Twenty-four hours later I joined the panel reviewing the proposals, from which ensued a lively debate that discussed the various merits of each submission for four long hours before the committee finally made a unanimous decision and our proposal made it through!

Now at the beginning of a new week I am not sure what the next twenty-four hours will entail, I just take a deep breath and….

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