We, the volunteers, experienced a relatively trying week at the Hub the week before last. It all came to a head on Wednesday when we just didn’t seem to be able to catch a break. One of the two vans that are critical to our general operation was broken and in the repair shop, so we rented a 6-seater van to help counter the problem of being down a vehicle. This was helpful, of course, but the van we usually use has 8 seats, so we weren’t operating at full capacity with the rental.
The number of seats in the rental van quickly proved to be the least of our problems though. During our lunch break, the one sliver of time when we don’t have to drive back and forth between the camp and the Hub, one of the volunteers crashed the rental van into the side of our other van, putting both of them out of commission for the afternoon. This was annoying. Not catastrophic, but annoying. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to rent a van again from that company, but still, no one was hurt.
Then, maybe thirty minutes later, there was a second accident. This time, thankfully, it didn’t involve any of the staff or volunteers that work at the Hub. It did; however, happen directly in front of the Hub. All of a sudden, a crowd of people were gathering and the next thing I knew, ambulances were arriving to the scene. I walked over to see what the fuss was about and saw a man lying in the road, his motorbike wrecked into pieces, scattered along the asphalt, a car stopped just in front of him. He had peed himself and there was blood all over him. From where I stood, he didn’t appear to be moving, I literally thought I was looking at a man who had just been killed.
An hour later, we opted to close the school. It just didn’t feel like too much was going our way for the way, things felt a bit cursed. We called a local friend of hours, and she used the one working van to transport the remaining refugees at the Hub back the Hotspot. It was a tough call, cancelling all of our afternoon classes and activities, but it felt necessary. It just didn’t feel like luck was on our side for the day. As a (generally) tired volunteer, I welcomed the unprecedented act of closing early. Yes, it’s terrible for the residents, who have to go back to the camp hours before they would like to, but we work ten hours or more each day, six days a week, in an effort to create an environment with stimulating activities and classes. Once in a while, it’s nice for the volunteers to say, “hey, we need a minute, let’s take a breath.”
And so we did. We locked the door and we all went into the library of the Hub and just talked about everything that had been happening for us over the last few days. It was really, really refreshing to take a moment for ourselves, something we rarely do.
The man who was hit by the motorcycle did not die. He spent two days in the hospital and then went home. With the one van still in the garage, we opted to not drive the lone van for the reminder of the time the second van was out of commission. Driving one van is a ridiculous endeavor, with the flow of people never seeming complete. And so, we stayed open, but only for those students who had the energy, drive, determination, and ability to walk to school. My English classes suffered greatly, but for only four days, I felt like it was alright.
Both vans are now back on the road, new scratches and all.