It was 2am here in the US when I was awakened to a call from my sister. She told me that there was a massive earthquake in Nepal and she was not able to get ahold of our mother and Peace Rehabilitation Center (PRC) President, Shanta. I was stunned with fear, because I knew she was traveling to visit a girl PRC had recently rescued from trafficking in India. I couldn’t sleep. The news said named the districts hardest hit by the earthquake. I was sick to my stomach because I knew she was in one of the epicenter districts. I was ready to hear the worst, but after two hours we finally got through. She had left a building that collapsed in the earthquake a mere 10 seconds later. Her voice shaky, anguished and fearful, she explained that those ten seconds saved the life of two PRC board members, one full time staff, and herself. I could not bear to be in the United States thinking of all the Nepalese that needed my help. After praying and seeking wisdom, I decided to return to Nepal and help in the Aid efforts. I contacted all of the male PRC staff and told them to prepare to go into the community to help.
3 Days later I was in Nepal.
“When I arrived in Kathmandu I was in shock at the state of the country. There was destruction everywhere. As I was leaving the airport I saw the sky filled with smoke. This smoke was from Pashupati, a Hindu shrine where people cremate their loved ones along the Baghmati river. Thousands upon thousands of people were gathering to cremate their loved ones. Seeing this shattered me, but there was not time for grievances as I knew there were thousands more waiting desperately for help.”
Utilizing the funds from RetailROI and other compassionate donors we compiled a team from PRC staff and the community. We knew there was massive need and we had a big challenge in front of us. The team wanted to head to more remote areas that would be difficult to get supplies into. We split our team into three groups. One team focused in Gorkha, another in Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot and Dolakha, and the third team supplied food and tarpaulins, for shelter, to both locations. The team and I reached remote areas before international organizations, like the United Nations were even able to access these areas.
Gorkha was our first location for earthquake relief. It was challenging to get there due to it being a rugged mountain area, with the roadways destroyed from the earthquake. This community was a poor and deprived area before the earthquake, so post- earthquake the little they had was gone. We had to hike in many of the supplies.
After Gorkha, we were following a truck full of our supplies towards Dolakha, an untouchable community. This community has a large population of Christians, an outcast community in Nepal. We were on our way when the truck abruptly stopped. The sky turned black, and all of the sudden a large rock hit the truck and the driver jumped out and ran. We realized we were just below a mile long landslide. We escaped, were all scared to death, but we had to keep going to help those in need. We convinced the driver to keep going up. In all with your provision we provided over 6 tons of food and supplies to every household in this community.
Part of my role this day was shuttling between this area and where we had a medical team in the mountainous village of Pangtang. As I was on my motorcycle making the trek I heard the loud blast of an aftershock. The entire mountain in front of me was collapsing. I was in the middle of a landslide! A large rock hit my bike and I jumped off. Moments later, rocks as large as cars began tumbling down the mountain. I had no choice but to jump off a 30 foot ledge into a river to try and escape. I heard screams of death as people were buried alive by this landslide. I miraculously survive, thanks to what I can only say is Divine protection.
As mentioned with the help of RetailROI and other donors we reached remote areas before international organizations, like the United Nations were even able to access these areas. We reached five remote VDC’s (Village Development Committee) of Sindhupalchok and provided over 30 tons (66,000 lbs.) of food and supplies and provided tarps to over 3,600 families. We also supplied over 500 families with tarpaulins in Nuwakot that did not have shelter. PRC reached out to 8+ VDC (Village Development Committee), and supplied over 25 tons (60,000 lbs.) of food and supplies and provided tarps and shelter to over 4,000 families in the epicenter of the earthquake destruction. PRC team also had medical personnel that provided direct health care to over 1,000 injured people in the remote areas of Gorkha, Sindhupalchok and Dolakha districts. In sum, over 10,000 families were directly helped and over 145,000 pounds of relief supplies were distributed by the PRC team. PRC, Free for Life and I would like to thank RetailROI and everyone who prayed and/or contributed to this mission.
A week after we arrived it was a hazy Saturday in the mountain village of Pangtang. This was the first time I had been to this community and we came with earthquake relief aid. The sky had been rainy and cold all morning, so women were sitting in front of fires in their kitchens to warm up. Other members of the village were just returning from the jungle bringing back grass and firewood. The Christians in the community were at church during the 10-12pm weekly service. Local Hindu families were waiting for the local Hindu priest to arrive to do puja (worship).
Suddenly at 11:56am, we all felt and heard the trembling of another earthquake. It did not take more than a few seconds for the church building across the street to collapse in front of my eyes. At the same time the earthquake had caused a massive landslide in the surrounding hills of this village. There was no warning for people to have the chance to run. 3 people died in the collapse of the church, and over 80 more died in the village.
I had met Shakuntala (picture here), a 5 year old girl playing in the front of her yard before the earthquake hit. Her parents were waiting on the local Hindi priest. The priest arrived a few minutes before the earthquake hit. When the priest arrived, all nine members of Shakuntala’s family went inside to gather all the items for the puja. While they were briefly in the house, the earthquake hit and the house collapsed with Shakuntala and her family inside. Both of her grandmothers were killed. Shakuntala was protected by her mother and father guarding her from the rubble. However, her father became paralyzed from the neck down due to the rubble falling on top of him. There was no way for Shakuntala or her family to get out of the house due to wood and stone piles being stacked on top of them. The community came together and helped rescue them from the ruins of their home. A family down the path was not so lucky. They lost four of its members including an infant.
The timing of this earthquake was very unique. The earthquake hit four minutes before the weekly church services were supposed to be let out on Saturday, so Nepal with a large number of causalities in Christian churches all over the country. But if this had been a normal weekday instead of a Saturday, things would have been so much worse. In the two earthquake events, over 3,000 schools were destroyed. There could be over 300,000 children that could have been injured or killed in the collapse of their schools had this aftershock occurred on a weekday.
The Core Mission Continues – 4 More Children Rescued from Trafficking
Besides giving earthquake relief aid to multiple communities in Nepal, we were also able to rescue four Nepalese children who were trafficking victims in India! Along with the police we helped on the risky rescue mission of these 4 children. All four of the victims were under the age of 14. We were also able to track and find one female trafficker that had sold her own sister into trafficking for a mere $400. She even sold her own daughter into sex trafficking but we have not found her yet and are still searching. This woman was arrested and is looking at 15-20 years in prison.
Trafficking is on the rise after the earthquake as people are displaced and are migrating to find shelter, food and jobs. Traffickers prey on people that are in desperation and do not have their basic needs met. This creates a vulnerable situation for many children in Nepal. Our border stations are vigilant and are working hard to find trafficked victims and traffickers crossing the border. This is a tough and challenging battle, but the PRC team is doing their best to combat this issue. Thank you for all of your support.
And thank you for your continued support of the relief efforts. As mentioned before, with the help of RetailROI and other donors we reached remote areas before international organizations like the United Nations. In sum, over 10,000 families were directly helped by the PRC team, and over 145,000 pounds of relief supplies were distributed. PRC and I would like to thank everyone who prayed and contributed to this mission. We all experienced God’s protection during the dangerous distribution of supplies around the country in remote, mountainous areas.