Print Edition - 2016-04-24  |  Year of Reckoning

Good samaritans recall their experience

Apr 24, 2016-

The role played by youths in the aftermath of the Gorkha Earthquake last year has been widely recognised. When help was needed urgently, thousands of youths spontaneously responded. The Kathmandu Post’s Anup Ojha caught up with two youths who helped in search and rescue. They reflect on their experience; how they coped with the situation and how they kept the hopes alive amid widespread fear and chaos

Nabin Tamang, 32, (Baskharka VDC, Sindhupalchok)

I spent two weeks rescuing and helping villagers in my home district. During the time of the April 25 earthquake, we were only two youths in the village besides me--Purna Tamang and Odar Man Tamang. All other were out of the village in search of job. 

For a week we didn’t sleep because we had to rescue villagers who were trapped under the debris. Many were buried to death. I myself carried 22 bodies to a maize field near my village where they were cremated. We did not have enough clothes to cover the bodies that had been pulled out from the rubble. Rains made matters worse. We didn’t have wood to burn them. So, we were left with no option than to bury them.     

Almost all houses in my village were flatted. I lost my mother and cousin in the quake. Our Gumba had collapsed. But somewhere inside me was guiding me. God gave strength to continue; I did not lose hope. I thought I survived because I had to serve others. 

Immediately after the earthquake we lost power. It was dark everywhere. Villagers were not able to charge their phones and could not call their relatives living in Kathmandu and abroad. They were trying times indeed. I collected 70 mobiles phones, packed them in a sack and came to Kathmandu, a six-hour ride from my village. I recharged them in the night in Kathmandu and took them back to village the next morning so that villagers could talk to their relatives and near and dear ones.

When I saw people in pain, I forgot my pain. I thought it was my duty to keep the hope alive and instill confidence in the villagers who had survived the greatest disaster in the country in 80 years. 

Sudan Gurung, 28, Kathmandu (Founder of I to We) 

After the first major shock, I heard a teenager in Basantapur, who was buried in rubble, crying for help. 

His legs were badly damaged. I pulled the little boy out of the rubble, and rushed him to Bir Hospital on my scooter.

When I reached the emergency ward and admitted the boy; I saw that hospital was getting more and more injured people. The National Trauma Center started to witness shortage of drinking water. All 200 beds had already been occupied. There was no water for patients, doctors, nurses and visitors. I went out in search of water but all the shops were closed. Finally in Thamel I could manage two boxes of water. Then I realised there was no food to eat. I finally got some packets of noodles in Chabhahil. The same day I made a request through Facebook to work as volunteers. 

I was surprised the next day to see scores of youths had come forward to extend help at the trauma centre. We worked for waste management at the hospital, to collect blood for patients and to provide food and water to hospital staffs On the first day, I was alone, but the following day, there were over 200 youths, hence I thought of giving the group a shape and made it “I to We”. 

Our primary goal was providing food to doctors and nurses, who were working tirelessly, so that they could treat more people and save more lives. 

Within a week from the quake, we were able to register over 1,000 volunteers.  

Since I started on the first day, I did not sleep for three consecutive nights and did not go home. 

It gave me immense pleasure when children, women, young and the elderly, who were injured in the earthquake, returned home after their treatment. What still pains me is we could not save some lives despite our efforts.

Published: 24-04-2016 10:09

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