The Lines Are Open Next Week

The lines are opening!

This week leading up to the opening is gorgeous. Exhausting, but gorgeous. This was the first week that our volunteers came in and actually saw our office space. I cannot believe what a gift it is to have them share in my excitement. Rozy made them tea and teased them about how this is the first and last time she’s ever going to make them tea. Unless they’re reeeeeal nice, then she might make them another cup sometime. We worked with each volunteer in a little more depth than we got to during training – although I am so, so happy to say that I don’t think it was even necessary. If anyone is reading this and wondering who they will talk to if they call KPR – I can promise you, you will speak to someone incredible.

Rozy and I very proudly showed our volunteers around the office, and judging from the grins, I think they all liked it. I found myself telling them all how much work it has been to set the place up, to get where we are. I don’t know how many times I’ve turned to Rozy in triumph and said, remember way back when, right when I first hired you and we had no idea what we were doing? Look where we are now! Just look!

Little things. Every tiny detail has taken time, thought, and effort. We have sat in sunny traffic, not even talking because it was too hot to talk, for hours to bring in bulletin boards from New Market. For some reason, for months and months we didn’t have chairs. We just sat on the desks. We still don’t have enough chairs. Or enough pens. The printer cable didn’t plug into any of the available power sockets. We had to basically re-wire the entire electrical system to have enough outlets for our needs. Ceiling fans. They’re not just conveniently there. We had to buy them and install them. IPS, so that the fans will run even if the power goes out. Water filter. Stove. Our white board fell down after we put it up. We have traveled to the office on strike days with no idea if we were going to get “cocktailed” on the way. (“Cocktailed” is a word my cousin Esha and I have invented to describe the experience of being around a “cocktail” – an amateur explosive device that is very commonly used as a fear tactic these days. They often contain metal or glass shards and can be very dangerous if one is too close to it when it goes off.)

And that’s just the office. There has been the whole process of getting where we are. Of drafting a notice that said we were looking for volunteers, of creating the website, of compiling referrals, of giving presentations to recruit volunteers, of interviewing potential volunteers, of being worried that we didn’t have enough volunteers (I am now proud to say we have more volunteers than we can train anytime soon). Of juggling massive amounts of paperwork, of realizing that the challenges of just keeping this all organized is something that both thrills me and makes me whine, “Don’t ask meeeee just do ittttttt.” (Alex Bardis, where are you in my life!) Of the constant struggle of getting anything done in the turbulent political situation we’re all wading through, of trying to split our time between KPR and Shahbag. Of compromising, a thousand different times. Of always, always deciding to go ahead, even when things were not perfect, or what we wanted, or comfortable. Of Rozy saying, “Fighting!” and Hammad saying “Hu, hobe” when I say, “KPR hobe to?”

And now? Being able to say, the lines are open next week? I am still a little bit in disbelief. Terrified something will go wrong. Actually, sure something will go wrong. It always has. Equally sure we’ll swing something anyway. We always did.

I have had days when I’ve woken up in the morning, nauseous from the heat, feeling like it just won’t ever happen. I can’t do it, not one more minute.

And then, to have one of my volunteers jump forward to take whatever I’m doing out of my hands and say, “This is ours now. We’ll do it, too.”

Lines are open next week.

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