Thirdeyemom

My heart breaks for Nepal

“We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.” – Petra Nemcova

News of the devastating earthquake this past Saturday has sent shock waves throughout the world. Once again, Nepal is struggling to help rescue survivors after another catastrophe. For me personally, my heart is broken. A place that has meant so much to me has continually suffered and is now in ruins. A place where I found my voice and was inspired to start this blog.

Annapurna Trek Nepal

Me and my Dad at the start of the Annapurna Trek. November 2010.

They sometimes say that bad things happen in threes. In Nepal’s case, I certainly hope it ends at three. A series of natural tragedies over the last year has brought heartache and struggle to this tiny mountain country, one of the poorest countries in the world.

It first began back in April 2014. Out of nowhere came the horrifying Everest Ice Fall that killed 12 Sherpas and was the single deadliest accident in Everest’s history. It happened at the height of trekking and climbing season and essentially destroyed the remainder of the year decimating much-needed revenue from tourism and Nepalese faith in the protection of its Sherpas who risk their lives for their wealthy clients.

Annapurna trek

Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Then only a few months later in October 2014, tragedy struck at the exact same place I was a little over three and a half years ago.  A snowstorm struck, beginning an avalanche claiming the lives of dozens of porters and trekkers on the very path I had walked over the Thorung La along the Annapurna Circuit hike.

Thorung La Pass Nepal

5 am at Thorung La pass. November 2010. Our guide, my dad, our porter and me.

Thorung La Pass Nepal

My dad at Thorung La Pass, starting the long six-hour descent to Jomson.

Thorung La Pass Nepal

This is where the avalanche struck and killed dozens. Thorung La Pass.

As someone who hiked in this very same spot, it still to this day is incomprehensible why the climbers did not spend the extra night in the hostel before attempting the three-hour climb up to Thorung La and the long, six-hour descent down to Jomson. There is absolutely no protection during the long walk down, nowhere to hide. Why they did this in the midst of a snowstorm is beyond comprehension. I searched the papers for any reason why they tried to beat the storm but found none. To this day I still wonder why they left.

Rural Nepal

Remote Villages like this is Nepal take days to walk to and are only accessible on foot further hampering the rescue operations and aid.

If these tragedies were not enough, Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake which hammered Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp, remote mountain-side villages in rural Nepal and parts of India continued to place an already desperately poor place into further ruins. Thousands are dead, and the rescue and aid operations continue especially for the many people of Nepal who live in such remote villages, they are only accessible on foot or via helicopter. It will take days to truly know the full extent of the tragedy.

My heart bleeds for the people of Nepal.

p1020144

What makes matters more devastating for Nepal is the lack of infrastructure and the poverty. Nepal’s capital Kathmandu was already a collection of poorly built ramshackle apartments and buildings. Just like Port-au-Prince, Haiti, another earthquake struck place I’d visited, cities like Kathmandu simply cannot hold up. Even before the earthquake access to electricity, running water and sanitation and medical care was scant. Now that tragedy has stuck, Nepal is drowning in the aftermath.

It is heartbreaking.

Kathmandu Nepal

Kathmandu

What I have learned throughout the years is that although desperately needed money and aid will pour into Nepal to help with its immediate needs, once the news of the tragedy leaves the paper it will disappear as well from the minds of the world and be forgotten. What needs to be done is more sustainable, long-term aid. More investments in infrastructure, emergency planning, health care and the economy are truly what matter in helping the people of Nepal once the floodgate of initial aid stops. But sadly, it may never come and like Haiti, Nepal will be left to fend for itself, bracing for the next unforeseeable tragedy that is bound to come.

 

43 comments

    • Yes so terrible. And after being in Haiti in February and realizing they lost over 200,000 people in the 2010 earthquake there. Devastating.

  1. Nicole, I agree that simply pouring money in willy-nilly isn’t the answer. My heart is broken, too, for the beautiful but poor country and its resilient people.

    janet

    • Yes and to think of Haiti too where 200,000 people died in the 2010 earthquake. Sometimes the world just is so sad with so much disaster, inequity, and hatred. It can be too much to take at times.

  2. It is a beautiful country and we are praying for those people, those who have survived, and those who are left to grieve, not only in Kathmandu, where my church has missionaries, but the surrounding areas as well. Many were killed on Mt. Everest. The saddest thing is that so many people die without Christ, their Creator God, thus suffering eternal torment in hell. There are people there who have heard the gospel and responded to God’s call, but many more whose hope was in their good works, are perished for eternity. This is the greatest loss. Ex. 20:3-6, John 3:16, John 14:6.

    • I know the death toll and destruction will continue to increase once they reach the many remote villages in rural mountainous Nepal. Truly tragic.

  3. It is sad, because it will come. This is the third large earthquake in 80 or so years. It lies in such an unstable area that they are sure to experience another event in another 30 years. These places receive massive amounts of money but things don’t change- is it due to their government? Like Hispaniola- like the difference between the Dominican Republic and Haiti- sharing the same island and they are night and day.

  4. advocacine

    I feel the same way too. And know how important disaster preparedness is…And I especially fear for our country [Philippines] which is located in the Ring of Fire…JICA projected that should the same intensity strikes Manila, more than 30K people could get killed.

  5. I have often dreamed of doing the Annapurna Circuit and going to Base Camp (and your photos make me want to so much more), but even without this want, it is such a sad affair. Living in an earthquake zone myself, and four years since our last devastating quake, I can attest to how long it takes to rectify the damage done in a modern country with more funding and infrastructure, never mind in a country with such remoteness and less infrastructure (and money). I also know how much it falls out of the minds of foreigners the minute the media has moved on. I know people who still can’t believe that where I live (Christchurch, New Zealand) isn’t all sorted now. Unfortunately media can be very fickle, and I too fear that Nepal will be forgotten about when it moves on from this. I can only hope that the companies and climbers who would have been spending their money on going there will still send their money there to help out in some way, because the effects of this disaster will last long beyond the immediate rescue and recovery.

    • Yes it is so scary that so much tragedy has struck Nepal. It really is. I’ve been to Christchurch and remember hearing the awful news. How much has been repaired and rebuilt? I was amazed and shocked actually when I went to Haiti in February by how much has been rebuilt. Whether it has been rebuilt soundly is a different matter though. I loved Nepal and despite all the bad natural disasters is trek there again in a heart beat. It is a magical place despite the hardship.

      • There is now a steady rate of rebuild in Christchurch with the gaps starting to fill but there is still buildings to come down & the city is full of empty plots. At least I know that buildings here have to be built or repaired to meet an earthquake safety code meaning they shouldn’t collapse & kill people like last time. I fear the rebuild in Haiti & Nepal will not be to the same criteria…

      • Yes this is exactly right! Sadly Nepal and Haiti and other poor countries hit by disaster are always hit harder and will continue to suffer because they lack the basic infrastructure. When they rebuild, there still is no codes and I fear what you say is true. That it will just keep happening unless a real investment is placed on building solid infrastructure in these countries. It is all so sad.

  6. Pingback: How You Can Help Nepal

  7. My heart too, Nicole. The devastation is really too terrible to contemplate. Why does it seem to be that those who have almost nothing, are hit the hardest by natural disasters?

    • Yes so true. And to think and remember that Haiti had it worse with over 200,000 deaths in 2010 after the earthquake. Yes it is always the people with nothing who are hardest hit because they are already poor and have such poor infrastructure. The disasters that have hit wealthier nations with better infrastructure always don’t suffer like the developing nations. We truly need to invest infrastructure!

  8. This was heartbreaking news Nicole. I have thought of you often as I read the news reports coming in. My prayers are with all in Nepal.

    • Yes it is. To remember as well my recent trip to Haiti with 200,000 deaths is hard too. So much tragedy in the world. Sometimes you can’t take it all. Not to mention what is going on in Baltimore.

    • Yes it is hard. And I was just in Haiti in February. It had been 5 years since the earth quake that killed over 200,000 people—an unimaginable number – and life was going on yet another disaster there could happen.

  9. Alanna

    Beautiful post and pictures, Nicole. Couldn’t agree more that it’s long term investments that are now more needed than ever. It’s so hard to think long-term when there’s so much immediate suffering, but so, so important. Sarina and I were just talking yesterday about how resilient and resourceful people are in Nepal, even amidst so much pain and trauma. I’m glad that you’ve gotten to experience that part of their culture–and all of the natural beauty too!

    • Thanks Alanna! Yes it is so true. You and me know that we need to invest in infrastructure so when emergencies and tragedies happen in these places, they aren’t hit so incredibly hard. I think about Haiti and how I was there in February. It had been five years since the devastating earthquake that took over 200,000 lives. Has it been rebuilt? Yes the rubble is gone. Yet what did they replace it with? Still buildings not up to code, people still lack water (when the earthquake hit, bottled water got shipped in en masse but what about investing in safe water and sanitation?). That is why I support groups like WaterAid who work so hard at investing in the infrastructure that must be in place to make these tragedies less tragic. Keep up the amazing work!

  10. jotz

    Our prayers and thoughts are with people in Nepal and may God give them strength to bear such pain and sorrow for the loss of their loved ones. We will pray for people of Nepal to get strong to rebulid their lives and will donate to help the needy.

    • Yes I just can’t read it anymore. Sometimes it just gets to be too much. Too much tragedy and heartbreak in the world. It brings me down. So I try to focus on other things that makes me happy like the little things in life, the small miracles and happy things. I love Nepal and I almost applied to the IRP trip there. It sounds like it was pretty awful experience and Melody has written a lot about it. I would be traumatized to have experienced something like this and see the death and destruction. My heart is too weak.

      • I know, I have been following Melody’s journey too. I think it’s okay to take a step back from what is happening for a while. Sometimes it’s important to think of your own health and well-being too. Focusing on the happy things in life is good. Stay strong x

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