A couple years ago when Christina and I were in the Amazon we came across a bushmaster snake in our path. Our guide, a native of the jungle, was deathly afraid of snakes and made us turn around and go back to camp. The next day he insisted we go back to the same path where we’d seen the snake. I asked him why it was important and he said “in my village we believe if something in the jungle scares you from your path you must return to face your fears, if you don’t fear will follow you for the rest of your life.”
When we were deciding whether or not to return to Nepal these words kept repeating in my head. For us it took a month after the earthquake to return.
Since we arrived here it has become clear that this is where we need to be. In the few days we have been here we have been able to deliver much needed supplies to rural areas, donate life-saving blood, volunteer on clean up projects and with the help of friends and family raise money to aid remote villages. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received. It is heartwarming to see friends and family give so much.
The situation in Nepal is sad to say the least. There are a lot of reasons why, which I won’t go into right now. Right now I want to talk about some good people we’ve met in Nepal and what they are doing to help:
Raju is a trekking guide on hiatus. He quit his job and refused a great paying job as a translator to volunteer in the most devastated parts of Nepal. He has taken on orphaned children from the earthquake as his own and spends 18 hours a day rebuilding Nepal. For a few hours a day Raju sleeps wherever he can, usually outside, but when I met him he was spending the night in his organization’s car, and then a public hospital.
Sujan is a university art professor on hiatus. After learning about the destruction of a town called Bugamati he decided to buy food and recruit some of his students to deliver aid. When they saw the immediate need for shelters in Bugamati they started building.
Prem Ji manages the organization Karma Flights. He works tirelessly delivering supplies to the most rural villages, risking his own life, so that others can have their basic needs met.
The work these men do is inspirational and it was hard not to get involved. As we mentioned before, we met Raju in Kathmandu where he was assisting a little girl who needed blood donations for heart surgery. During the girl’s surgery we talked for a long time about the work Karma Flights is doing and what their immediate needs were. The next day Christina and I jumped on a 7 hour bus to Pokhara to meet with Raju and the Karma Flights team.
We talked with Prem who informed us of the devastating situation in the Gorkha region and a few projects they were trying to get off the ground. Prem has developed strong relationships with many remote villages. He is able to talk with the village leaders by phone to find out where is the most in need and what these needs are.
The most important project at this time is building classrooms, getting school supplies and delivering them to the village of Saurapani before the monsoon season washed away the road, leaving the village cut off from the world for the next 3 months. We quickly agreed to fund the project and deliver the supplies with Prem and several other volunteers. The next day we bought all the supplies, rented the truck, and with two jeeps headed up to Saurapani. After 10 hours by truck, tractor and foot we made it to the village. Saurapani was close to the epicenter and totally leveled by the earthquake. We camped in tents among all the devastation.
In the 3 days we were there, we were able to deliver one year’s worth of school supplies to 675 children, bring building materials for 8 classrooms (4 of which were built by a local construction team while we were on site), also deliver water buckets, tarps, and medical supplies to the village.
The people of Saurapani were eager to help every chance they could get and showed great hospitality during our stay. Everyone in the village lost their house, their family members, and much of their livelihood. What they did not lose was their hospitality, their compassion, and their great determination to overcome. A lot of the people in the village suffer from post traumatic stress as the small earthquakes and tremors continue on a daily basis. It is hard not to tear up when I think about this. There are not enough words to describe the immense respect I have for the people of Nepal, Gorkha and Saurapani.
During our stay the villagers held a graduation ceremony for the older students. There was a lot of awards and recognition given out to various people in the community and ourselves. At first I was a bit uncomfortable to receive recognition but as the ceremony went on I realized the social gatherings are not about the recognition or the speeches. This event was a way for the community to strengthen their bond with each other, have psychological relief, and convey positive reinforcement about their future. These ceremonies are Saurapani’s way to overcome adversity, together. Once I came to terms with this it was easier to embrace all the recognition.
During the ceremony the children performed songs and dances they created about the earthquake.
After the ceremony, and the distribution of supplies we were able to go around to the classes and exchange with the students about our countries, our language, and our cultural differences. If ever in doubt about what to say when you are thrown in front of a class of foreign children who don’t speak your language, make everyone stand up and sing “head, shoulders, knees and toes.” It is an easy way to teach a little English and makes everyone involved laugh or smile for awhile.
This project in the field was extremely rewarding and could not have been done without the help of our friends and family. We owe a big thanks to everyone who donated and all of those who continue to support us through sharing our posts and positive feedback. We are so fortunate to know such generous people and I hope everyone knows none of this would be possible without you. Please watch our Saurapani video below and feel the rewards of your generosity.
Note: Select to watch in HD for best quality*