Following news from afar about the massive earthquake in Nepal has been a bewildering and desperate experience for Nepali diaspora and to a lesser but significant extent for people like myself with a close affection for the country. What can we possibly do to respond to such a huge tragedy? Pray for Nepal, help Nepal is the cry. Some of us long to jump on the next plane to help, others raise funds and awareness but whatever we do it will not be enough even to address our own needs to somehow feel better, let alone the incalculable short and longer term needs of the real victims of this natural disaster.
The news when the earthquake struck was itself devastating, but the days that have followed have been characterised by waves of media driven information aftershocks and news videos reporting the widespread destruction and traumatic personal experiences of those caught up in this catastrophe. Each new set of numbers adds another distressing layer to the feelings of helplessness and despair, as the figures jump significantly on a daily basis with hundreds more fatalities and more and more casualties – when will this stop? When will both the physical and psychological aftershocks plateau and begin to settle to something that feels normal?
As far as Nepal goes, for those who live there, it will probably never feel normal again, and the scars and aftershocks will be there for years after the buildings have re-emerged on new and stronger foundations. A lot of us outside Nepal have been so challenged to figure out what we can do to help, and it’s been amazing to see the huge outpouring of financial support and giving of much needed items to provide shelter – Nepal is a country that seems like its people to inspire great love and affection from all around the world .
This response is so very important, particularly as the monsoon rains will in a month or so add to the turmoil and increase the likelihood of more landslides and the difficulty of rebuilding homes and infrastructure. This support we now offer is like the 100m sprint to channel our energy into helping with the disaster and address as many problems as humanly possible in a short space of time. The marathon for which fewer are often equipped, is the sustained support that will be needed for development, long term rebuilding of infrastructure, and addressing the personal needs of those wounded and disabled physically and through the widespread post-traumatic stress and mental impact of this event.
Nepal needs your help right now, but will also need it when the cameras turn away and the news media lose interest and turn their attention to a crisis elsewhere. So for those who are willing and able, wherever you are located use this moment to learn more about Nepal and its people and the organisations working there to bring both short term relief and long term development. Please find some way to identify and support even one small development dream that if it can be realised in Nepal will improve the long term situation for at least a few of the people who are suffering so much in this beautiful yet very poor country.
There is so much that will need to be done – lets start sharing thoughts and ideas as soon as we are able on how all the families and friends (old and new) of Nepal who live in the international community can play a positive role in the years ahead.