One week after the Nepali Earthquake

One week ago, Les and I went out for our morning walk before we were to head out to a church in Indiana to speak.  When we arrived home, Rachel (our oldest daughter) was waiting for us – and gave us the news of the earthquake that had hit Nepal.  Our first thoughts were of Hannah (our youngest daughter who is teaching in KTM) – but she had managed to send a text message saying that she was okay.  We also heard from Ganesh (our good friend in Tansen) that the hospital was safe and the staff was all well.

Through this past week, our emotions have been on a roller coaster!  Why would God have us here during this time of great need in Nepal?  We considered having Les return to help – but it hasn’t seemed right as the skills he has to offer are not the main ones needed right now.  So – we have been praying, looking at facebook posts and the news, emailing friends and praying some more.  We have been interviewed and given several talks on Nepal in the past week.  We are so thankful for the outpouring of generous love from so many for the country of Nepal.

We want to thank so many of you who have called or written to us with concern for Hannah and for the hospital.  We so appreciate your encouragement and support.

This earthquake was terrible – but it seems it could have been much worse.  It was a Saturday – which is the day off for Nepalis.  So – the schools were not full of children (which was a blessing at Hannah’s school as the big assembly hall/gym had the entire back wall collapse).  Many people (especially in villages) were outside – either in the sun doing chores like dishwashing (usually done outside), cleaning rice, working in the fields, etc.  So even though the most destruction was in the villages (due to the mud brick housing types) there was not as much loss of life as there could have been.  The difficulty now is getting food to the villages (most of the food stuffs were destroyed when the buildings collapsed) and getting shelter and blankets to the people who will need it until homes can be rebuilt.  Safe drinking water is also a problem.

Supplies are slowly making their way out of the valley (KTM) into the surrounding villages.  Doctors are working many hours to serve the injured and ill.  An orthopedic surgeon and an operating room team traveled from Tansen into KTM to help with the work of surgeries.  Another couple of doctors from Tansen traveled into the Gorkha area which was one of the hardest hit areas.  I would encourage you to read the blogs of Dr. Becca  https://wheregodcalls.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/three-ways-you-can-help/ and Dr. Josh http://momosandmountains.blogspot.com/  both sent to Tansen by Samaritan’s Purse – to get more information on their work in the village areas.

The INF (International Nepal Fellowship) has been getting food supplies into village areas – as well as taking medical teams into village areas.  UMN (United Mission to Nepal) has also been organizing help especially for the Dhading village area.  Both of these organizations have been working in Nepal for more than 60 years so they know how to get the work done well and efficiently.

We were encouraged by the postings of some friends in Kathmandu.  First – Marcy,  whose husband grew up in Japan (like Les!) and is working with the Nick Simon’s Institute in KTM:

We’re all doing a lot of contemplating now that the shakes are subsiding and life seems to be returning to a new normal. We’re all asking what’s next. I’ve scanned all the posts and looked at some of the news sites. We’ve heard so many rumours and rumours repeated. Yes, there is incredible devastation and loss in parts of Nepal. The amount of aid flowing in is staggering. Nepal is struggling to cope with the task of getting the aid to the right places.

What you might not be hearing is that, people are pulling together, our neighbours and local shops are incredibly generous and kind. We have not actually seen any price gouging, looting or rioting. Most of the rumours are fear based and are not helpful. We hear things like “diseases are going to start spreading, food and water are running out, the BIG earthquake is yet to come, etc., etc.” None of this is helpful or true.

Let’s focus on what is true.

Here in Kathmandu there is plenty of food. Trucks with drinking water are being sent throughout the city. Water supply pipes are being worked on, but we do have ground wells. Thankfully it has been raining and there is ground water. Normally this time of year the wells are starting to run dry and it’s very hot and dusty. Yes, the rain is hampering, but it is also providing some much needed water and keeping temperatures down.

We are being extra careful with water and basic supplies. Under normal circumstances we have to be careful. The main roads are open, supply chains will start operating again. Milk is being delivered, newspapers are being printed, groceries from warehouses are arriving, vegetables and fruit are in the markets.

Supplies are slowly getting out to the rural areas. Yes, it’s slow, but they are trying against aftershocks, rain and landslides to get them out there. I know it’s frustrating to be on the outside looking in and all you hear is horror and destruction. From where we’re sitting we need to focus on what we know to be true, what will give hope, what will encourage and spur each other on to love and help each other. Nepal is an incredibly strong country with incredibly strong people. They are resourceful and survivors.

While Steve was in Sindhupalchowk he was amazed and encouraged to see people just 48 hours post earthquake in the fields planting rice. They were pulling what they could from their homes to set up what temporary shelters they could set up. Please pray this is what people focus on. Yes, we need help, but Nepal is not a poor, incompetent country just sitting around waiting for the world to rescue them. They are strong and together they will rebuild. It is going to be hard. It’s going to take a long time, we are going to need a lot of help, but it will happen.

Verse of the day: “For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord who has mercy on you.” Is. 54:10

We also were encouraged by news from our good friends, and fellow United Methodist Missionaries, Mark and Deirdre.  Mark wrote:

Thanks for everyone’s generosity and prayers.

Our assessment on the ground in Kathmandu and having visited two affected districts (Sindhupalchok and S. Lalitpur) is about the same as in the attached:
– As usual, the rural impact is much worse than in the valley.
– There is huge loss of homes which will lead to increased hardship in the months ahead. The biggest need is for tents. Food relief is starting to reach affected areas.
– Medically, most of the critical have either died or been transferred into Kathmandu. Hospitals like Nepal Orthopedic Hospital are short on supplies.
– There is a large outreach by MoHP (Ministry of Health and Population), Nepal Army, outside militaries, and a sea of various rescue organizations/individuals.
– For all the negative press, MoHP/WHO seem to be doing a reasonable job of coordinating a patchwork quilt of relief.

In NSI we don’t see an immediate role for our continued medical relief effort. We will soon be focusing on the ‘chronic disaster’ which is Nepal medicine elsewhere.

We were especially struck by Mark’s last sentence.  The state of medicine in Nepal – especially in the rural areas – still is a chronic disaster!  So – thanks for the extra prayers and giving during this crisis – but please do keep Nepal in your hearts and minds in the coming months and years and we strive to continue to serve a people who still need basic medical care which is taken for granted here.

Finally, we had a post today from another friend about the role of the Nepali church after this disaster:

Today (Sat) is the one week anniversary of the quake and most Christians were in church when it happened (most Nepali churches meet on Sat in Nepal) so they met today on the site where it happened-either in their churches or next to them if they are too damaged to meet inside. There are Christian groups teaching trauma counseling for children (and adults) to pastors and UNICEF is also broadcasting on the radio suggestions for helping children process what happened. As teams reach some remote villages, they find the local people helping one another to rebuild homes or at least temporary shelters out of rubble. Despite great losses, people are moving on in their lives-trying to set up homes. Food is now reaching Kathmandu. However there are still many villages which have not been reached. Local medical offices in the villages are doing heroic jobs with extremely limited resources and staffing. Nepali people are hard working and resilient and many are reaching out to their neighbors. Contaminated drinking water is still a very big concern along with the potential for waterborne diseases like cholera. The pastor of the church we attended in Kathmandu has to move as his house was damaged but his family is fine. There have been deaths in that congregation and one woman is sleeping in the church as her house was destroyed and her husband killed. So there is hope and encouragement, but also much to pray for. Pray for resources to reach those who need them most.

Thanks for reading – and for your prayers!  Following are links for giving if you feel so led.  Please be aware that the best places to give are to organizations who have been on the ground in Nepal for years before this happened!  Thanks!

United Mission to Nepal:  http://umn.org.np/

United Methodist Committee on Relief (working with UMN and other organizations in Nepal: http://www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission/Search-for-Projects/Projects/3021568
This looks like a normal project donation, but will in fact be channeled to the Earthquake appeal.

KISC (Hannah’s school): Please visit our partner website in the USA, RCE International to donate:
https://www.rce-international.org/donate/ (Reference: Kathmandu International Study Centre)

KISC school hall    KISC school hall.2

There are other good organizations as well.  Please feel free to contact us if you have questions!  Pray for Nepal!

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1 Comment

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One response to “One week after the Nepali Earthquake

  1. Romeo L. del Rosario

    Thanks for your updates. We keep you and Nepal in our prayers. We are glad Hannah is okay.

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