Today is my last day in the “Big Brother” house here in Padang as my plane back home to Norway leaves at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning. I can’t believe that I’ve been here for three weeks already … or that I haven’t been here for three months. Strangely enough I have both those feelings at the same time.
I know I have been talking quite a bit about losing a grip on time. But it’s really a strange feeling. Each day is so long and extreme that it gets hard to remember the day before. In that respect it feels like I’ve been in Indonesia forever. The constant combination of too much work, too little sleep, and a complete lack of privacy ensure that I experience an enormous amount of both exciting and not-so-exciting things every day.
In a way, this feels like home now. My colleagues here in Padang have been my entire life the last three weeks. We’ve been together 24/7 and know so much about each other by now; we’re almost family.
On the other hand, it’s going to be fantastic to get back to my actual home. I just can’t stop dreaming about that real shower I’ll be having, hot water pouring endlessly over my head. The opportunity to rinse the shampoo out of my hair for the first time in three weeks. Clean clothes. Oh, this might very well be the best shower of my life!
Tomorrow, when I start my long journey home to that shower, exactly one month will have passed since the earthquake hit West Sumatra. So far, Save the Children has provided more than 98,000 people – including almost 50,000 children – with critical shelter and relief supplies. This means that Save the Children has mounted the largest relief effort of any international non-governmental organization in response to the quake. This means we’re two-thirds on our way to our goal to reach 150,000 people, including 75,000 children with essential relief. That’s great and most certainly makes up for the 80-90 hours long work weeks!
Thinking back, 12-year-old Popot might be the person I’ve met here who has made the biggest impression on me. I’ve told you about her before, her house was completely destroyed during the earthquake. I met Popot in one of the 80 school tents that Save the Children has erected so far. I noticed her because she was the girl with the broadest smile and the biggest laugh. She looked genuinely happy to be in school with her friends.
I will never forget Popot’s big smile!