The Santo Domingo Operations Center

Published on 31 January 2010

Team members work late into the evening to support their colleagues in Haiti.

All photos copyright: WFP/Jonathan Thompson

I can't remember how long I have been here. I am not sure anyone can. There are no windows and the light is flat and grey. In the aviation office it is even worse - Paolo looks like he is about to collapse. He processes hundreds of request daily for a few dozen open seats and constantly answers calls from aid workers who are both hopped up on adrenaline and sagging under the weight of jet lag.

Irving hasn't seen daylight in ten days and his skin is pale and his eyes bloodshot. Jayne finally took a break but only managed to pass out cold for 45 minutes. When she woke up she couldn't tell if she had slept for five minutes or five hours. The aviation guys in the office ask me what the airplanes they manage look like so I show them the photos I have taken on the ramp out at the airport.

The only evidence in this office of the massive flow of passengers and cargo moving through Santo Domingo are keyboard clicks and muted phone conversations. You might call these people quiet heroes but none of them would ever accept that description. There are no heroes here - they are all in Haiti. Whatever we do we do for the people of Haiti and for our colleagues that continue to return on UNHAS flights looking shattered and haunted. 

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