Thinking of Nepal

April 30, 2015

On 25 April, when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit  34 km east-southeast of Lamjung in Nepal, it felt a little closer to home than I could have imagined, even though I was thousands of kilometres away in my home in Perth.

The tremendous casualty of human life is staggering, numbered in the thousands across Nepal, India, China and Bangladesh. There is also the destruction of significant cultural and historical sites, including several UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu Valley, which had stood the test of time until that day.

This felt particularly personal.

Two months ago I arrived in Pokhara, Nepal, less than 100km away from the epicentre. This was the beginning of a 12-day journey which represented both a beginning and the end of important chapters for me, particularly in my professional life.

By presenting me with a unique perspective I had never encountered before, this magnificent nation and the beautifully kind people made sure that I was going to learn more about their culture and myself than I imagined.

While planning for this trip, I had pictured Nepal as somehow serene, calm, picturesque and tranquil, full of devotees and monks, and yet also with adventure abounding when you looked across to the mountains.

It offered me so much more.

What struck me most about Nepal, more than any vista or site, were the Nepalese themselves.

It was how calm they were – patient, polite and composed, as well as hard-working and resilient. For me, their response to life was well-articulated in a radio interview with an Australian working at a Nepalese orphanage.

She said when the earthquake hit, the children in the home remained relatively quietly and headed out to the open without too much fuss. She remarked on their humble acceptance of life despite the conditions they lived in which she termed beyond third-world, fourth world.

My personal experience at an orphanage I visited was under much more pleasant circumstances but was not that much different. (I’ve included pictures below.)

These children, removed from their homes in some cases, and without any family of their own in others, were happy. They had simple pleasures of laughter, chatter and fun. They were grateful for the clothes and and food we brought them, but mostly they were grateful for our presence and  our company.

I learned first hand from these beautiful people to be grateful for what we have. I’ll never forget what the Nepalese taught me and gave me.

My heart breaks for all of the victims of the earthquake and my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families suffering in the wake of this devastation.

Please consider donating to one of the many charities who are helping with the efforts in Nepal at the moment.