because there is nowhere to sit..." writes my friend Tom. He's a doctor. He flew out on Wednesday morning. Destination? Haiti.
He has done Aceh for the Boxing Day Tsunami, Pakistan, the Thai-Burma border and more. Tom is a kid's doctor, a bachelor, the one who wears the socks with frogs or smiley faces or trains running around them. If there is a disaster somewhere Tom is one of the people they want. Tom is one of the "she'll be right mate" brigade. Tom is one of those people who will come up with a creative solution based on the materials to hand.
I knew Tom would be going before he told me. When he left a message in the middle of the afternoon asking for help I had already started working on what I knew he would want. I cannot mind read but I knew he would need what other people would need. There's a "smiley face" pain board and a board with pictures of body parts and a family relationship board and some more besides. I do not have to tell Tom how to use them. He is an expert.
He left with as many supplies as he could carry - some for himself so he can sustain himself and function in the heat, some so that he can do as much as he can. He is "on leave" again. His colleagues will cover for him. Tom will work long days. He will work with other people but he will also, in a sense, work alone. He is happiest around kids. They are happier when he is around.
Unless he needs something else from me I will not hear from Tom again until he leaves Haiti. It could be quite a while.