Sleepless in DC

Sita and I left on an early flight to DC to work together at a conference. It is the culminating event, a Share Fair, of the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative, and the Knowledge for Health (K4H) end of project taking stock. I am the MC and Sita is doing the graphic facilitation. We have worked together like this in Burkina, in Afghanistan, at Harvard and now here. Every time we do this we think we could be a family business.

The high of working together on something important and worthwhile was shattered by the Boston Marathon bombs. We were blissfully aware of the tragedy until we received messages that Tessa and Steve were safe. “Safe? What safe?” we wondered. Thanks to smartphones we found out what had happened. Here too things were put on high alert: sirens in the distance and worries about targets over here. Two bombs could mean more bombs – since no one knew who, why. Rumors of a complete downtown Boston shut down, the airport…we could have been stuck there.

We tried to forget and got busy with work, ironing out some last minute glitches which required a long walk to find a Staples (too long a walk that produced more ankle ouch), and then settled down in a tapas bar, waiting for Sita’s co-facilitator Alicia who had missed her early morning flight from a southern city.
And now I cannot sleep as the horror of today plays like a tape in my wide awake head…thinking of the bystanders who stood in the wrong place at the wrong time, the runners who had worked months on getting ready, some also at the wrong place at the wrong time.

M called on Skype from Kabul – to make sure we were OK. Imagine that, living in Kabul and worrying about us. “Your people are not used to that,” she said, “it’s harder.” It’s hard on all of us, knowing that everything can suddenly come to a full stop, just like that. One afternoon you decide to go watch the marathon finish, and then bang! For the rest of us life goes on. I have to get back to bed, there’s work to be done in the morning.

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