First Week Updates

A few nights ago a friend asked me if I’m happy and giddy. This question makes sense. I’m typically pretty happy and giddy. KPR opening up should mean more than the usual share of happy and giddy. I definitely had moments when the phone would ring, and a volunteer would calmly and professionally answer, “Kaan Pete Roi, Ki bhabe shahajjo korte pari?” and I would have a total burst of giddiness that KPR exists.

(Some people have expressed confusion about whether or not we’re allowed to be pleased that the phone is ringing. Yes, we are. We have not created anyone’s difficulties through our existence. What we have done is given people a place to go with their concerns, should they choose to. We are not glad that they are suffering, but we can be glad that we are there to try and help.)

I am very proud of our work. Monday and Tuesday went well. Slow and steady for the most part, but considering it’s the beginning, I am quite satisfied.

Are there problems I hadn’t anticipated? Sure. Mostly office-related. The phoneroom is hotter than expected when there are actual people in it. (This may seem like a mild problem, but I promise, it isn’t.) We have a rule where the phoneroom door has to be closed at all times, but of course we only started acting on this rule when we opened the lines on Sunday. Didn’t anticipate the fact that shutting the door stops airflow and heats up all the rooms, or that for some reason, the door makes an obnoxious, dramatic cracking noise every time you open or close it. (I have a bad habit of theatrically gasping when something startles me. This door startles me every single time. I gasp, volunteers giggle.)

Is there more work than ever before? Yes. Now that the first week has successfully gone by and we know what we’re doing, I am comfortable with increasing publicity. This means media, in the next few days. A press release, eventually that press conference we’ve been talking about. We’ve been approached by a couple different newspapers and are probably going to get on a talk show in the next week. (I say this casually now, but those who know me know that this, if anything, equates to giddy.)

(Slight digression, to talk about newspapers. I have firmly boycotted Prothom Alo. I had boycotted them after they published that filthy story, but if I hadn’t, I would have after Savar last week. More than 400 people died. Prothom Alo did their sickening Meril-Prothom Alo awards show that week anyway. Everyone dressed up in their jewels and laughed and danced. I am appalled, both with Meril-Prothom Alo, and with everyone who went to that show. But people keep reminding me that Prothom Alo’s circulation is the most widespread, and other newspapers are evil, too, and if I really want people to know about KPR, Prothom Alo it is, and hey, maybe they’ll say sorry.

So am I meant to swallow my disgust with them because I think the cause is important enough?

Or when something makes you sick to your stomach and you promise never to go near it again, do you stick with that promise?

Maybe it’s supposed to be the former. Too bad. I can’t do it. To the people who urge me to get a story about KPR in Prothom Alo, my response is, you can use Prothom Alo to tell people about it or anything else, if you want to. That is your business, I won’t stop you. But, me, I’m not going to. I, personally, will not speak about KPR, or about anything, to that newspaper. Sorry gets you nowhere.)

S.S.C results are coming out this week. Unfortunately, this time of year can be very difficult for young people in Bangladesh, if their results are not up to expectations. We have decided to open extra shifts on the day of and the two days directly after the results come out, in case anyone needs it. We thought it might make sense to send our information out to schools with regards to this issue, so Friday morning we sent a letter and KPR flyers to fifty Bangla medium schools in Dhaka city. Maybe next year we’ll be operational around the clock and letters will go out to all schools in the country. Who knows? For now – well, we thought of this idea late in the week and ran out of time to implement it on a large scale, so fifty it is.

Additional shifts and more publicity means we need more people, so it is good that we another did training session this weekend. Again, it was fabulously fun, and I feel honored that these guys have all come to work with us, devoted their time and energy and agreed to take on people’s pain. There is nothing more satisfying than stretching legs out with Rozy and Hammad after training all weekend, eating roshogullas, and grinning about how it all went down. Grinning becoming discussing longer-term plans for how we want KPR to roll in the future. KPR. Future. Still in disbelief!

Coming back to whether I’m happy and giddy? No, I’m not. I’m exhausted from the last week or two, but more importantly than that – Savar. I wrote a post a few days ago that had the number 100. That death toll is now more than 500. One of our KPR volunteers (these kids are golden, I’ll say it over and over) was a volunteer rescue worker at Savar, and he shared some of his experiences of going into that wreckage to get people out. I cannot stop thinking about him, the other rescue workers, the people in that building. We are working with people to figure out ways to let both victims and rescue workers know about KPR, when the time comes for them to begin to sort through that trauma – but I don’t feel brave enough to begin to be able to put into words how I feel about this whole thing.

I think happy and giddy will take some time.

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