Editor’s note: MIGA staffer Dessislav Dobrev recently returned from Nepal where he had been conducting due diligence for an energy project when the earthquake hit. These are his reflections.
It was just over a week ago. The streets of Kathmandu echoed with screams of horror and helplessness. Waves of people rushing hysterically, many with blood gushing down their limbs or foreheads. The suffering that followed cannot be put in words, they would only diminish the reality on the ground. A snapshot of a world already in terrible need bitterly exacerbated by the uncontrollable force of nature. A snapshot for me but a daily reality for so many.
Please allow me to share a few thoughts after having witnessed the pain under the shattered buildings and on the dismantled streets of the Nepalese capital. The human suffering was personalized for me to a degree that cannot be replicated by images on TV and social media, which have sadly numbed to some extent some of our most innate senses of compassion and empathy.
First, this disaster not only sheds light on the existing vulnerability of so many. It also shows how critical it is that we continue to work in the most vulnerable countries. The correlation is evident – for example, if we help build better and more robust infrastructure, we can have a real impact on a situation such as this. A real impact translated into saving lives and livelihoods. Every brick matters.
More importantly, in the inertia of our busy quotidian in our offices in Washington, DC and elsewhere, it is perhaps a little easy or convenient to lose sight of why we are all here. This is not supposed to be an ordinary job or a regular career where we simply make a comfortable living. It is a calling, a mission. We are entrusted by the world to spend every minute of our time here making it count for someone out there. We are fiduciaries of the world’s unrelenting quest and need for betterment, and are ultimately accountable to the people we serve – those in need.
Yes, we do have our clients in the private sector to whom we owe excellent service. And yes, we do have certain internal processes to follow in our work, we do have internal responsibilities to comply with. And yes, we do have to seek intrinsic ways to optimize our efficiency as an institution, and it is also healthy to do regular soul-searching on what our vision is as an organization. But none of these are for their own sake. The ultimate measure of success and the only virtue of being more efficient and have better internal processes are how they directly translate into real impact on real people’s lives.
Seeing the raw vulnerability of so many people has awakened in me more than ever before this sometimes latent, even obscure, passion that brought us all here. It is in all of us. “Ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity” are not just words on a page or a feel-good slogan. Behind them, there are real people affected by every project we undertake to support. As real as the Nepalis gathered under the make-shift tents under the skies of Kathmandu.
By now you have all received the urgent pleas for vital aid to Nepal. I wholeheartedly join in this cry for help, after having seen the desperation on the streets of Kathmandu after the disaster. The next few days and weeks will be a critical time for the survival of so many people in this fragilely beautiful country. So please DONATE! World Bank Group staff can donate here to generate corporate matching:
External audiences: American Red Cross
Save the Children