It didn’t take long for me to decide I had to go. Nepal had just been hit a massive earthquake and as the hours passed the damage was apparent. It had been two days since the 7-4 magnitude earthquake had hit Nepal and there were ready 3000 people dead and the toll was rising. Tens of thousands lay inured and hundreds o thousands of houses were unlivable. I was fortunate enough that all my family back home were safe and accounted for. I only had one thing on my mind – even I could make a difference to one life then it would all be more than worth it. A few of my IQPC colleagues were already doing their bit to help with the relief efforts, weather it is donating clothes or medical supplies or money. This inspired me even more to go there and try and be of some help. With some help from my friends at GELATO MESSINA we were able to source 5O one litre tubs of some of their favorite Gelato. The whole Sydney office came on board with the idea, next thing you know all the gelato was gone and we had managed to raise $800! The support I received was amazing.
On the 1st of May when I reached Kathmandu the situation was devastating… In some of the villages not one house remained. It looked like everything had been uprooted from where it stood. Some houses lay precariously close to falling with bamboo stumps as the only support. It was chaos. Thanks to the global support and an army of well-wishers food and medicine was available in most places. A few of my friends and I decided we will try and reach one village first and dedicate our resources there. We identified a village in the Kavre district and set up camp there. In the three days we stayed there, we built 4 temporary toilets, put together packages containing buckets, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, soaps, sanitizers, blankets, clothes, sanitary pads, baby formula and first aid kits along with emergency blankets to the 70 households in the village. We also ran a drawing/sketching camp for the kids in the village. I managed to get the kids to sing and dance in a big sing-along session after the drawing class was over. Seeing those kids smile was one of the happiest moments in my life. With the remaining funds we organized for tents blankets and baby formulas to go to Sindupalchowk one the most affected areas.
The drive there was terrifying as I was driving between two rows of either fallen or falling houses. Even though we had taken a four wheel drive vehicle we could only manage to go up to one third of the way and the locals from the village were called to pick up the package. There were twenty odd locals who made the three hour trek to come and take the supplies. When they reached the car and saw the supplies that awaited them you could see the joy in their eyes, it was almost two weeks after the quake and it was the first of any supplies they had access to, they couldn’t wait to share the supplies with their family.
I was driving on the foothills of a mountainous road when the second earthquake hit. 7.4 it was. I could see the whole village shaking in front of my eyes and people running out in the streets. I have never felt more helpless. After the shock, news started coming of even more fatalities and destruction, seven thousand people had already been confirmed dead and there were still a lot of people unaccounted for. News of the second earthquake spread across the world and my friends and family in Sydney and colleagues at IQPC Sydney were worried.
I managed to get in touch with a few of my colleagues letting them know I was safe. It was a rather pleasant surprise when I received an email saying that Noel our managing director had generously donated a thousand dollars to help out with the cause... With those funds I managed to send another fifty blankets, tarps, sleeping mats and baby formula to the same village in sindupalchowk we had earlier gone to. We also heard about a person in Dolakha district who had housed around sixty people in a makeshift tent in his backyard. A lot of those people were elderly or sick and needed. We managed to send them medication and a package with Tarps, soaps first aid needs, oil, tea ,sugar, salt and blankets.
Earlier in my trip I had met lady who ran a free school for poor kids. She had mentioned that after the earthquake a lot of kids had not come back to school she said she had started providing free lunch to the kids as a way of getting them off the streets and back to school. With my remaining funds I secured enough supplies including rice, biscuits, oil, sugar, tea, flour, salt, sugar noodles etc. to run the kitchen for a month for all the kids.
It was now time to pack my bags and head home. It wasn’t until I actually sat on the plane I had time to think about the trip, I felt very grateful. One thing I learnt is that the worst of times brings out the best in people. With the positive vibes of all my colleagues from IQPC I had managed to share some joy and happiness and relief to people most in need. I managed to bring back blessings from a lot of elders, smiles from a lot of kids and well wishes from a whole lot of villagers. I also realized that when the wrath of nature hits there is very little we can do no matter how advanced the technology is or how prepared anyone is and we should always treat nature with respect.