Haiti COVID-19 Update from Extollo's President
An Update to Our Friends
It’s an understatement to say we’re living through extraordinary times. Every so often I tell my daughters (ages 6 and 8) that they may not remember what life was like right now but they’ll read about it in their history books. As you can imagine, they look at me with that little girl eye-roll reserved only for dad. It’s sort of cute (for now, I’ll take it).
We’re all doing our best to adjust to this new normal. And regardless of how long this physical distancing and shelter-in-place lasts, we’ll all be better off if we simply settle in, accept it as reality, and make the best we can out of it. There is an old saying I learned from Outward Bound: “if you can’t get out of it, get into it.” In every difficult situation, there is something waiting to be learned, something to be gained.
For Extollo, of foremost concern is the well being of our staff, students, and our local community (Bercy). As COVID-19 began to spread across the planet, we recognized the inevitability of an outbreak in Haiti, and quickly developed protocols to prepare our team, our operations, and our community.
So it was that a couple of weeks ago we implemented our COVID-19 Protocols, pretty rapidly executing the highest level which shut down our campus, cancelling a Welding training mid-course and pausing all upcoming trainings. We asked our Haiti team members to shelter in place and prepare their families for a country-wide lock down. During this time we also helped coordinate, with our friends the Bercy town council, a community meeting to learn more about COVID-19 and ways the community can prepare for, and respond to, the virus once it reaches Haiti.
We’re thankful that while our campus is shut down, everything is well secure, protected 24/7 by the staff of Maximum Protection Security. Jeff Ballard, our Construction Manager, and his wife Teressa, have chosen to remain in Haiti during this time, safely sheltering in place on our campus. Staying on campus by themselves has not only given them acres of physical distancing but it has given Jeff the bandwidth to tackle many projects on campus that he is now able to give his focus. More on that below.
Even though our training and construction operations are paused for the time being, our work continues on. Numerous important projects on campus are now being completed, we recently earned Partner status with GlobalGiving, we continue to design and develop our tilt-up house and security fence panel initiatives, our vehicle fleet is both restored and expanded, and a 360 degree assessment of our accounting operations is leading to even more improvements. We are thankful.
About a year ago, we instituted digital tools to help us better collaborate as a geographically-dispersed team. In the first half of 2019 we integrated Slack (an in-house texting platform), Asana (project management and collaboration platform), Google Shared Drive (file and document sharing and real-time collaboration), and zoom (the now ubiquitous video conferencing platform). We feel very fortunate that long before we had to work as a team in a virtual environment, we already were. As a result, the entire team is almost seamlessly working together as we shelter in place. We’ve slowed down a bit, as is to be expected during a global pandemic, and we continue to push forward Extollo’s mission with purpose, gratitude, and hope.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we recently sent an email to everyone on our mailing list asking how we, as a staff, can be praying for them. We were moved by the response to this simple question, and were honored by the openness of many who shared transparently with us. We also appreciated the many words of encouragement. So if you missed that email and would like us to be in prayer with you, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re all in this together.
Let’s get into it!