I’m tickled that I’m both starting and finishing this blog with a going-away party. I guess that means I’m doing something right. I’ve been putting off writing this last post, partly because it’s so busy in NYC, but more just because I don’t want to admit that it’s actually done. But I suppose a big part of doing anything is learning when to let it go, so here we are.
My official KPR going away party was on August 16th (two months ago!) at my grandmother’s house. It’s a tradition when we have a big group in that house to do what my mom calls a ‘kabab party’ – kabab-makers come in from old town and make the chicken and beef and parathas and jilapis right there, and you eat everything hot off the grill. It’s always a big hit. It was the night before our big KPR event, so we all had a lot of energy bouncing around. We cleared away furniture in the living room so that I could teach everyone the Cupid Shuffle. Everyone was all dressed up (I insisted my parents dress in adorable matching outfits so that the pictures would come out nicely.) and the house looked beautiful. My mother has truly perfected the art of throwing a large party, and it was laughingly, screamingly fun.
I’ve found, strangely, that I don’t want to write about the party in too much detail; many of the little things that made it wonderful for me are a bit like trying to explain an inside joke. Many of them I just want to hold inside myself; these are the things I think about, now, to calm my noisy heart when I feel a sudden burst of frustration and loneliness because now I live in New York City by myself. It was just a week before I left, you see, and while everyone was partying and taking pictures I kept having to step away because my eyes would fill just looking at them. It took an immense amount of energy to hold it together for most of the evening. I kept thinking, I don’t believe you all are here, I didn’t even know who you were at this time last year and, look, look at what we have done!
When they finally gave me the surprise that had been in the works, I just started crying. (Oh, there was a slideshow, and oh, there was a KPR poster with all the volunteers’ heads hilariously drawn as cartoons, but the real and most wonderful thing that they put an incredible amount of work into was an exquisitely detailed scrapbook telling my whole story of coming to Bangladesh and starting KPR. It is now my most treasured possession, and I carefully hand-carried it to New York with me. ) We sat on the floor for hours, me hugging the scrapbook to my chest, talking, holding hands, sharing stories and experiences from the year. I know, from our thank you board in the office, from what the callers say to us, that in doing KPR we have done something important for a lot of people out there. And yet, to me, it has become not as much about the helpline as it is about the relationships that we have made. The forty – forty , isn’t that incredible! – volunteers who love each other and me in the blunt, fierce, unwieldy way that they do – somehow, them all coming together is what feels like the biggest success.
Kaan Pete Roi continues to thrive and grow. Please follow our website and Facebook page to remain updated. I will leave this blog up here for awhile and can be contacted through it or by email at email@example.com if anyone has questions or would like to become involved. I welcome all comments and suggestions! I will be back in Dhaka in December and in the summer, and I will continue to work with my KPR team to keep getting bigger and better. I recently told someone very close to my heart that some things were too good to be true and imagining them happening was “inconceivable,” and immediately and correctly got put in my place for saying such a thing. KPR is just a beginning. Let’s see where we can go.
And so, to wrap up, I have several people I would like to thank for helping me create Kaan Pete Roi, names I would like to write and say out loud. (For those of you who are reading, thank you, also, for following the journey. Please stay with us!)
First, to my beautiful friends in the U.S, from Cornell and Cambridge. The very first people to have heard about the idea. Kevin DeLong, Claire Miziolek, Aylin Ince, Caitlin Cutter, Anna Wu, Rosemary Ziemnik, Rebecca Distefano, Ellyn Schmidt, Vikram Rao, Alka Menon, Julia Rozier, Colleen Farrell, Ryan Spagnolo, Ally Barnes, Alex Bardis. A special shout out to Rosemary, Becca, and Alex, who made a point of letting me know they were there every step of the way.
The individuals at Samaritans from whom I learned how to do this work, with whom I shared shifts, and who told me that they were always with me. Ron White, Danielle Bolduc, Jonathan Grollman, Emma Kerry.
All the members of Harvard’s LDS, for their donations – the first donations to KPR – but much, much more for their love. Particularly to Susan and Debbie for their guidance.
For their wisdom, kindness, donations, and support
Susan Carey, Debbie Zaitchik, Matt Nock, Amelia Habicht, Munir Hasan, Farid Ahmed, Md. Jaynal Abedin, Ahsan Habib, Shaheen Islam, Ayesha Khanam, Sultana Kamal, Mohit Kamal, Afroza Amin, Md. Kaykobad, Saiful Haque, Parveen Cole, James Cole, Yasmin Ali Haque.
For their support in getting KPR off the ground and for our beautiful logo
Hasnat Shahrear Pranto, Samira Zuberi Himika, and the individuals at Team Engine
For 100 days of KPR
For all the time, every single day
Swapan Bhai, Beli Khala, Nilufer Khala.
For even the possibility
My parents, Yasmeen Haque and Muhammed Zafar Iqbal
For web-things, but more for the encouraging texts
Abu Awal Md. Shoeb
For the publicity, but more for the fun
For courage and cooperation
Muhtassabbib Rumman Matin
For making the last few days beautiful
For the conversations that kept me going
Sheila Ahmed, Nuhash Humayun, Nova Ahmed, Bipasha Ahmed, Shabnam Shaheed, Ajmeri Chowdhury, Mariam Khandaker, Shabnam Ahsan Esha, Adiba Binte Razzak Tithi.
For emails that contain the phrase “woohoo!”
For “Paro tumi. Everyday paro.”
For the patience that made it all okay when it otherwise would not have been
For her leap of faith when there was nothing and no one
For “KPR hobe” and making that phrase a reality
For making it possible for me to keep moving without a drop of worry
Umme Kawser Lata
Lastly and most importantly, for being the ones who do all the work, tirelessly, uncomplainingly, beautifully. You have changed the way I think about the world. All the Kaan Pete Roi volunteers.