Earthquakes were something like a myth, at least, until April 25th 2015. Our mothers used to tell us the story of their mother’s mother, telling the tale of the devastating earthquake that took place more than 82 years ago in 1934. We used to listen in awe, our jaws dropped. But not once did we think that this story would one day become our reality. But it did.On the last Saturday of the month of April, 2015.
That April the 25thI was on my way to Bhakundebesi, Kavre district, on a local bus, to deliver some materials for the school that we were building. All of a sudden, the vehicle started shaking as if it was going to topple over right there and then. The bus had many passengers. Everyone was bewildered and terror-stricken by the sudden tremor. In the commotion, dust and smoke began to fill the air that was so calm and serene just a moment ago. We requested the driver to carefully stop the bus in an open space nearby. At that moment, screams& cries overflowed us. Moments later, the open space swarmed with thousands of people. The electricity lines had already been cut which left the mobile network out of order, disconnecting us from the rest of the world.And what’s more, from our near and dear ones.
It was hard to believe, but the sight of the buildings collapsing in front of our eyes, wasn’t false and fake. It wasn’t 1st of April to make fun of us. Nature can’t be that cruel and unsympathetic, can it? But it was.We were in dismay and had no choice but to remain there. The aftershocks that occurred on regular intervals, were scaring us each time and it was difficult even to stand upright. The moving earthrendered us unbalanced and dizzy.
After considerable time, mobile phone networks started working and I was able to gather some information. News of collapsed homes, overwhelming numbers of deaths and countless injured people emerged from the rubble. The image of Dharahara, Durbar square, temples that started dancing in front of my eyes while I watched in disbelief… All have been wounded, killed, brought down,destroyed by the earthquake. They exist no more.
Later in that afternoon, I returned to my home. The journey back being filled me with fear, terror and uncertainty. Communication with friends and family was difficult.Internet was out of question. I found my home, my family house destroyed. Luckily no one from my family was seriously hurt. The first 72 hours were painful.We stayed in open ground under the blue sky. Almost every hour we were shook up by the perilous out cries calling ‘Earthquake, earthquake!’ and ‘Run, run!’. Aftershocks terrorized us time and again. The numbers of people killed broadcast by the media was rising by the minute. And it did not stop because severe aftershocks kept on shaking up the ground and destroying the already weakened structures. It was impossible to get some peaceful sleep, eat without haste or answer nature’s call in comfort. All our lives were plunged in nature’s terror and fear of death.
It took days for help to arrive, sporadically at first but after a few days, roads were filled with vehicles of foreign aid teams.
After I was able to get some access to the internet, I smiled wearily. I had received lots of concerns and prayers from hundreds of friends and well-wishers living abroad. This lifted my spirits. I felt the warmth of life in the energy that was send with these messages of compassion and sympathy. And suddenly I realized, I have to think of those who are in need right now. I felt that I should forget my own sufferings and extend a hand to those who are in despair.
I gathered our team of MasterPeace Nepal and discussed our options to help those needy people and how to accumulate necessary resources. People from different places approached us with requests for tents and food. Thus, in the first phase, we collected some funds to buy tents, rice and medicines and distributed them to 105 families in dire need.
We were encouraged by the happiness and smiles of those we helped. In the second phase, with the help of a hospital and locals, a health camp was established for the well being of the earthquake victims. More than 300 people directly befitted from the program. One of the more remarkable initiatives of MasterPeace Nepal was the introduction of street performances to make people aware of caution measures to be taken at the time of earthquakes. The effect of these shows was not just informative but the knowledge on how to deal with the consequences of the quakes and shocks helped people to cope with their fears.
In the third phase, 250 students were provided with items like stationery, dresses and teaching materials like copies of textbooks and manuals.
In the fourth phase, construction of temporary classrooms for damaged government schools was done. To some school communities we only offered construction materials to build such classes.
Today it has been more than Three months since the brunt of the first earthquake. Thousands of aftershocks have passed our lands until now.The team of MasterPeace was so consumed in helping others that we almost forgot the hard times of our own families and dear ones. They too are living in tents and suffer like the rest of our people. Nevertheless, working for more than fourteen hours a day has not tired us. It has further strengthened us with hopes and beliefs.
We have all lost something, and some of us a lot… but not everything. Our hopes are high. That’s why we are moving ahead in our aim to serve the people. We have started campaign named “Donate your talent, rebuild Nepal” to reconstruct the dilapidated schools and health centers. Via this, generous individuals around the world can helped us by donating as per their capacity. Our campaign can also be supported by using the hash tags:#DYTRN #DonateYourTalentRebuildNepal.
At times, people call us lunatics because we are helping others while our own houses have collapsed and are in ruins. People think it foolish. But we don’t care. With our effort, small and insignificant they may be in the scheme of things, we are helping people lessen their pain and sorrow. Collecting resources is not an easy task, but nothing is impossible if we try. And our houses too, will someday be rebuilt. It is just a matter of time.
But what we felt on April 25th and 12th May of this year, chills are still running down our spines. Now there is also the joy of sharing what little we had and the warmth of new and renewed relationships. All this will have a lasting impression in our hearts and minds.Memories of that doomed Saturday shall remain with us, always, and it will be our turn to tell our children and grandchildren the tale of this horrible earthquake. And it will be them who will listen in awe, jaws dropped.