One month on
8,669 people dead, 384 still missing. 500,223 homes destroyed, 2.8 million people homeless. 250 aftershocks and still counting. At least $2 billion needed. These daunting statistics are an indicator of the enormity of the destruction, devastation and desperation caused by the earthquakes that started at 11:57am on April 25—one month and one day ago.
AHF is helping in the most effective way we can—working with our trusted partners in Nepal who already understand how to help people who had so little even before the earthquake: the many thousands of girls and their families in our STOP Girl Trafficking (SGT) project, our women’s co-op and our child protection project, Buddhist nuns, monks, and Tibetan exiles in settlements. They add up to intimidating numbers.
Hidden in these numbers are individuals, and having met them over the last month is what allows me to focus, to “keep on keeping on.” Krishna Laxmi, an SGT graduate who put herself through college and earned a degree in architecture, is part of our women’s entrepreneurship program. From very little she built a life that was the envy of many of her kin. She lost friends, her house and has been living under a tent for 31 days, but was still gracious enough to offer me a meal. Maya Devi, the head of our United Women’s Savings and Loan who apologized for “being a nuisance” when we delivered tarps and food to her village. Nani, an 81 year old woman treated at a CPCS mobile camp, the young boy delighted with his new ‘tiger cap’ given to him after a checkup at an HRDC field clinic, Rhadhika who was able to salvage her school books from her ruined house, and Gita who cried because she could not.
What lies ahead can appear overwhelming. HRDC was damaged and needs extensive repairs to be made safe for its patients. The risk of girl trafficking in the affected districts is now more acute than ever, and we need to more than double those under SGT’s protection. Many of our partners’ buildings—clinics, monasteries, schools—also need essential repairs.
Yesterday I found my to-do list from before the quake (yes, on paper—I’m old fashioned that way), and in light of what my current one looks like, the tasks appear terribly mundane. I used to brag that I had the best job in the world. “Be kind, do good, and have fun” is the AHF mantra, and I got to do this in a beautiful country that adopted me some 15 years ago. Many, many things changed one month and a day ago, my job and my life among them. And while none of us expect things will return to the way they were, we are hopeful we can meet and match the challenges that are ahead.