At the end of the afternoon I'm talking with a colleague in the hallway of our office. Behind him, someone comes running out of the logistical office. “Look at that” she says, pointing to the ceiling fan. It’s swinging. Someone else runs outside from another office, over his shoulder he shouts that there is an earthquake. Everybody who is standing in the hallway does not feel the movement of the earthquake. We quickly direct everyone out of the office and wait outside for what is coming.
The buckets filled with sand, which are hanging outside the office to be used as fire extinguishers, are swinging back and forth like toy buckets. When, after a minute or two, they start to swing less everything seems calm again. However we wait outside for a while until it seems really quiet. Inside the office my colleagues switch off their computers and go home, just like every day. We then start receiving news by text messages and news websites, it was more than just a small earthquake.
There has been an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale in the south of the province in which we operate. Although it is a sparsely populated area, it is a fair assumption there will be a number of deaths and injured people in the area. Most of the homes in the area are built of clay which will not have withstood such an earthquake. At that time, there is not much news from the area; most of it is based on assumptions.
Later that evening, in the house, I try to put these assumptions into perspective, but I do not manage to do so. The impact will be great in the area. The benefit for us is that we are already present in the province; we know the people, their customs, but most of all we are motivated to go to the area to provide the needed assistance.
The next morning, in the logistics office, one of our drivers is talking with the technical logistician. When I walk in he tells me something that I do not understand, he knows this and he smiles at the Technical logistician. He translates that the driver would likes to go to the affected area when MSF decides to go there. These moments show the power and motivation of our staff.