Work from Home was simply not possible for us

Thursday 19 August 2021

Bhawani at Save the Children Warehouse

When I joined Save the Children in 2016, Save the Children was working in emergency response of 2015 Earthquake. It was my first humanitarian experience. I started managing supplies and warehouse, for the recovery work. But my first on-site humanitarian experience was in 2017 when I was deployed for flood response in the east to manage warehouse and distribution. And the second exciting experience was in 2018 when I was deployed as Warehouse Manager in Rohingya Refugee Response at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. 

That is when I came to know how it feels to work as a frontline humanitarian worker. The experience was surreal. Though I joined Save the Children wanting to work in humanitarian situation primarily, I had very little knowledge of what the experience would be like. That is when I realized how response work is affected by a lot of things – including politics and supporting people in need was not as easy as one might imagine.

Before Save the Children, I was working in the private sector and hence, had no idea of the humanitarian response. I however thought of applying in an INGO seeing the humanitarian work international agencies undertook in 2015 Earthquake.

Being Country Focal Person for Warehouse and Inventory Management, there are times during crisis when there are no weekends or off hours. But this is something that keeps me going and makes me satisfied. The greatest satisfaction is to see the trucks being loaded with essential supplies and lifesaving materials to be transported to the place of need. I don’t have to be in the field distributing the materials or supporting the communities physically to feel that satisfaction. It’s fulfilling just to know how all the hard work I do in the backstage will provide people with the chance to restart their life.

I enjoy working in humanitarian response. Seemingly impossible goals become possible I enjoy both the pressure and satisfaction you get from being in this sector. Therefore, I have enrolled myself in different courses on humanitarian response and disaster management. Being a frontliner is not only my work, but also my calling and I am lucky to have a family that understands where I stand in terms of career goal. Even my family thinks I am doing a good work by helping others in need.

In recent COVID-19 response, initial days were more painful as there were a lot of rumors around the new virus. Amid everything, we had to handover PPE and health commodities to National Logistic Center near Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital which was also a dedicated hospital for COVID-19 treatment. I feared infection. The fear was higher when we were setting up a tent in the hospital itself

Another challenge was to be present in the office each day as Work from Home was simply not possible for us. We must receive goods physically, verify them, pack of supplies, hire vehicles to transport materials to the field, hire workers and load trucks with supplies. Complying with COVID safety protocol (2 meter physical distance) at warehouse is really challenging for us during loading and unloading of heavy goods. But we did our best. We also did the stretched job of taking a sample of the material to respective staff’s house for inspection and confirmation. When everyone else was working from home, we were running from house to house with the samples. It was difficult to keep oneself motivated in those periods. But then, I would recall why I joined this sector in the first place . At the end of the day, I wanted to be of service during difficult situation.  

New challenges and new learnings motivate me to work harder to be a humanitarian aid worker in global platform, which is also why I enjoy working in humanitarian situation more. I like getting out of my comfort zone challenge myself to how to do my job better.