Hi. I am Admir and I am not a blogger. I draw instead.
I work in emergency response at World Vision as a Program Manager, where my role is to ensure the quality and sustainability of programs in the Middle East, East Africa and Great Lakes. My work is not limited to large scale emergency deployments. As part of my portfolio I’ve also had short-term deployments to different emergencies in Kenya, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Haiti and Pakistan.
I’ve just returned from the Solomon Islands, where I was deployed in response to the earthquake and tsunami which hit there in February.
I wanted to share some of my experiences with you, and give my drawings exposure to digital dust.
It always starts with a phone call. This time it was on Sunday evening. Next thing on Monday at 4:30am I was at Melbourne Airport, going through friendly security pats. I flew to Honiara, Solomon Islands and then to the remote island of Santa Cruz, where a large earthquake had generated a tsunami wave that hit the villages along the shores.
I’ll stop here to tell you that I love my job. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the fact that there’s something addictive about travelling fast to the place of emergency. It’s also about seeing the resilience of the human spirit. My family may have a different take on my job, but I love it.
This is me. I do smile sometimes.
However, once you touch down and meet with everyone affected, the romanticism of this job starts to fade, and reality sets in. You realise that time is the most valuable commodity.
The tsunami wave destroyed almost everything in its path, and what it couldn’t destroy it reshuffled in a major way. Unlike other emergency responses I’ve been involved in, there were no dictators to blame, no troops or militant groups – this was Mother Nature at her worst.
Then I met David, who lost his three-bedroom house. When I saw him he was wandering around the remnants of his home, waiting for someone to pinch him or wake him up from his nightmare. The house he built had vanished overnight.
When something like that happens, you can try to stand strong and put on your best armour, but the depth of your eyes and wispy breath will give you away. You can look at the sky with your palms and shoulders up, but there will only be silence and traces of where your house once stood.
As we talked about what happened, the ocean waves were hovering in the background, peaceful and innocent, without a trace of the horror they had just produced. Amid the rubble and destruction, I could see children playing around us, many of whom had to mature overnight.
After the assessment, World Vision provided the affected villages with much-needed resources including water, tarpaulins, rice, tuna, kitchen sets, hygiene kits and shelter tool kits to start repairing homes.
The Solomon Islands is a beautiful country, with friendly people and the most pristine natural habitats. It’ll always have a special place in my heart and I’ll remember its people and their generous hearts. Please remember it as place needing temporary support before it gets back on its own feet.
Admir Bajrami is a Program Officer at World Vision Australia.
Find out how you can help through World Vision’s Emergency and Preparedness Fund, which ensures life-saving supplies are pre-positioned and trained staff are on the ground when emergencies hit.