Today I was reminded of where I was last year … in Nepal.
A video was made to chronicle the events that unfolded before, during and after the big earthquake by the people working for the different organization, including mine. HI team responded without delay to the catastrophe that was unfolding on the very soil they were standing as they were out on the field playing football.
I still keep in touch with my former staffs now friends. Catching up on the development in the places where we used to go which with the enormity of needs seems to be slow. But believe me, a lot has been done when I was there and since I left November of last year.
Being part of the 2nd wave of emergency support means we arrived when most of the first batch of emergency support are flat out tired from the non-stop action, sleepless nights, traveling mostly on foot and maybe lack of proper meals. It doesn’t mean that we have everything prepared for our arrival, no, we were merely taking up from what they had started … the colleagues we came to replace were laudable for really doing a good job setting up what we came to continue and improve.
I inherited a good team of physiotherapists, vibrant social workers, and energetic project officer and recruited some more including a data officer in a difficult situation. They had exceeded my expectation and was able to accomplish what were expected of us in the short time I was there – the rehabilitation services of people injured during the earthquake continued in the hospital after we folded the temporary tent hospital and rehabilitation center.
I have done many first in this mission … first emergency post and the first time in South Asia and first time to be in an earthquake zone.
When I arrived I was expecting chaos but no … arrived at midnight, went through immigration smoothly and then I saw the car. At night you see nothing, but it has that feel and asks yourself “maybe I am in the wrong place” then I arrived in our lodging and met in passing all the rest of the crew. Then I woke up to two aftershocks of 6 magnitudes, 15 minutes interval and reality set in — I am in an emergency post!
What else do I remember?
Living in tents and sleeping either on the ground or the treatment table, shaky hotels and house in the middle of a corn field when it’s not a pond during the rainy season. Showering in a room under the stairs where you make a mental note not to sing in the shower, or you risk getting diarrhea the next day which you will not like to have being in the field.
I get to eat at the pit stop restaurant before getting to our final destination, where food was always good if not spicy and always the same – dhal bat with chicken washed down with nice cold coca cola.
I saw many hanging bridges and wondered how it feels to be on it. When I was actually on one, my feet won’t let me move, the phobia returned and only until our driver walked with me I was able to get to the other end otherwise, I will sleep in the car next to the river while my staffs are sleeping in the proper tent with mosquito net.
But the best memory of all saw the Himalayan Range – even though I didn’t see the great mountain Everest, I got to spend a good time with the other peaks in the western part of the ranges – the Annapurna Range in Sarangkot and enjoy the company of friends while on that trip of a lifetime and the Langtang Range on my last visit to Dhunche in Ruswa district.
In life we get to experience new things … live life different from what were used to … met people we will never get to meet again but somehow changed both of you forever … and these memories of the events that passed makes my belief in humanity even stronger.