On March 22nd 2016 a little after 9am, I opened the door to the office while my boss ran to me feeling grateful I was ok. Brussels was under attack and my heart broke.
I was safe, my colleagues who took the metro were all safe so I only had to figure out if everyone I knew was ok? My friends and family who live and work in Brussels immediately started a group chat on WhatsApp where we one by one told each other we were ok. Next was reassuring my family and friends from outside of Brussels we were alive and well by texts, phone calls and social media. We then were instructed not to leave the office since the attacks happened not far away from where we were and all public transportation was brought to a halt.
I felt a lot of sadness and helplessness in the morning but the afternoon was heartwarming. There was a spirit of togetherness in a country that’s so divided:
- The paramedics, doctors, nurses, firefighters, military, policemen and other individuals saved lives, helped, comforted and cared for victims
- The airport staff guided people calmly away from the airport to the tarmac of a loading bay
- A lot of fellow countrymen brought food or opened their homes for shelter to people who didn’t know when they’d fly home
- Everybody was patient and courteous on the road knowing they’d spent hours in traffic jams
- My colleagues all made detours to drop off other colleagues who live outside of Brussels
- Individuals and taxi drivers all over the country volunteered to drive people home since there were limited trains
- All the encouraging messages, drawings, candles and flowers left on the pavements in front of the Brussels Stock Exchange building
Someone said we’re a failed state and a hellhole and others threatened us saying we can never walk around safe anymore. We are aware that this could happen again but we are vigilent and learned to live with it. That’s why instead of staying home in fear today we decided to go out and commemorate all the victims and their families with love. From Brussels Airport to the Maelbeek metro station and the rest of the country, we are #TousEnsemble #SamenEén #AllTogether