Still numb. Numb but doing something, and that helps.
Hopefully by now you have an idea of the scale and scope of the destruction in Nepal. To tell you the truth, I’ve probably been revolving around it a bit too much. Yesterday I finally took a deep breath without stutter-catching through it. Lots of tears this week.
On Sunday I was asked to say a few words to my church congregation, about Nepal. You’ve heard most of what I told them here. But the part I’ll reiterate is this: After I heard from most of my friends in the affected area, when they reported sleeping on the ground outside their damaged homes, or in their potato fields to keep rocks and buildings from falling down on them in the aftershocks, they reminded me why I love the people of this tiny country so much. They immediately went to work to help those around them. Homeless or in safe houses by night, they carried supplies to rural villages by day, or unloaded trucks from India, so they could make a difference.
Many of my friends in Nepal are okay. Not only okay, but back online, and elbow-deep in helping the cause that the world seems to be rallying around right now. So rather than the dark photos of the front pages, I want to show you what I am seeing through my Nepal family. Not because it’s all rosey, but because rather than go into the politics of a giant aid project (which is pretty dismal from my view), I’d like to show you what Nepalis do when they’re knocked down this hard.
Many of the musicians (the ones I traveled with in 2011) are in or near their home villages, moving supplies.
Roj Moktan is in Sindhupalchowk, unloading a truck. This district had reported over 1000 causalties within 2 days of the quake, and it had not been fully assessed then. 95% of their schools were damaged.
DJ Tenzing is doing the same on another truck in another place.
Milan Lama is in Chitwan. He has been actively posting videos of where he’s been. He visited a hospital, rallied a village with a microphone, and helped unload supplies. He reported with levity that they nick-named him Tent-Lama (Lama, his last name, also roughly translates to ‘teacher’), and he liked it. They’re famous musicians, recognized and revered like Justin Timberlake, Vince Gill or Lady Gaga would be here. Their presence in these areas is uplifting and appreciated. They’re just hefting bags instead of singing. Making the work lighter for everyone.
Krish, whom I’ve worked with on a couple of website projects, is a great communicator. He is using Facebook and other tools to organize supplies, communicate between distribution groups and districts most in need. He’s also unloading supplies.
Tukti (who was in New York with me in January) is on scene with a 7 Summits Foundation shirt.
Lhakpa is reporting in areas of Kathmandu…
Including Swayambunath – the Monkey Temple – which sits high on a hill overlooking all of Kathmandu. It’s one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been at sunset.
And the ancient buildings of Swayambunath took damage. They’ve stood there for centuries, through countless earthquakes, but this one sent them tumbling.
Its damage hurts me to see. I sat with DJ and Mary Beth right there last time we were in Kathmandu. Note, the foreground in the photo below is where we were sitting in the photo above (2013). The temple and structures date to the 5th century. Yes, really.
But it will eventually be rebuilt. It wasn’t the only historic or UNESCO site to be damaged. Some were completely razed.
Some of you know that I curate a photo site called Everyday Nepal. Its purpose (along with photo sites from other countries) is to dispell the stereotypes of developing countries that front page news and mass media promote. We’d been posting photos several times a day. So think about that for a minute. Its purpose is to show daily life, office workers, weddings, family picnics, instead of war and famine and disaster. And then 7.8 at less than 2 km deep. So I let the photos site rest in the days following the earthquake. I didn’t really feel it was my place to put anything up at all. So without words, I waited and let the other contributors (all of whom are in Nepal) decide when it was time to post again, and what they would show. I thought the people who were living it should decide. A few days ago, this is what went up.
Now to share a couple of my favorite mass media pieces. This one, by Jonah Kessel, I could watch over and over. Beautifully done.
And I ran across this video today and thought I’d share it because the sentiment of the narrator matches mine so well. NEPAL EARTHQUAKE APPEAL FOR HELP – Australian Himalayan Foundation-HD. To paraphrase Peter Hillary, most people go to Nepal to see Everest and the mighty Himalaya, but leave in love with the people, thinking about the people, and want to come back to see the people.
The question I’ve been asked most is, am I going over there. It’s hard for me not to, but I am of more use here right now. The huge orgs are over there are doing their thing. Red Cross, USAID, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, World Vision et al won’t be helped by me taking up space on the one international airport that Nepal has. Once the initial emergency aid orgs have done what they can and most of the world is printing other things in their headlines, that’s when I’ll be more useful over there. Ask me again then.