|Photo taken from World Vision website|
The pictures from Nepal are horrifying; if you haven't seen them, watch the news tonight. CBC has a photo crew in Kathmandu, a place that's become extremely difficult to get in and out of. After you've seen them, imagine what it would be like to be in that vulnerable city, those vulnerable villages along the line where the European tectonic plate meets the Asian.
We're told the movement beneath people's feet measured a full meter, so imagine yourself on one of those moving sidewalks in an airport, where someone turns on, then reverses the direction every second for a full minute. Buildings made of stone and un-reinforced concrete can't survive such motion and all around you are the excruciating rumble of stone and concrete collapsing and the screaming of parents and the wailing of children pouring into the streets.
As the worst shaking subsides for a moment, your attention is drawn to the homes of family members and friends and you begin frantically searching for them and you find some but others are nowhere to be found; you know they didn't make it out.
And every few minutes, the aftershocks remind you that this is not going to be over for a very long time. When you've done all you can to find friends and family and the rescue crews are beginning their work of searching for the dead and the living, you make your way to a place where no building can fall on you, gather your children around you and try to calm them. It's not easy because you yourself are on the edge of hysteria.
The buildings that were your refuge have become savages, you dare not shelter in the ones still standing.
The crowds begin to gather in the open space you've found, a kind of common in the heart of Kathmandu. Eventually, relief will come in the form of emergency tents but for two nights, you sleep under the stars, huddling with your children under a thin blanket, shivering in the drizzle that's just begun to add to your misery. Your son is coughing and you know there's nothing to give him except to keep him as warm as possible with your body.
The tents when they come are a great relief, at least you can be dry. The blankets feel like an angel's touch after the cold and damp. By now the aftershocks are beginning to feel normal although the rumble of stones and concrete falling somewhere fills with despair: will there be a life left for you when this is over? Or would it have been better if you had all died and were lying at peace under the rubble?
And then there are food and sanitation to figure out. Earthquakes crack roads and runways and food relief can sit at airports in India or on parking lots far away, unable to proceed to the afflicted area. Stores can be raided from some buildings lucky not to have fallen, but this will suffice for a few days at best. Hidden spaces between rubble piles become open toilets that hold the promise of cholera. Despair is everywhere.
What does this mean for us where food is plentiful, the ground is flat and never moves, where incomes are high, healthcare is excellent and always nearby, and our homes aren't adequate unless they have at least two bathrooms? Relief organizations and governments have turned their attention to helping; our best help will come in giving them the resources to make help happen. It's not an occasion for twenty bucks; we ought to dig deeper, out of compassion and thankfulness that we are able to be generous.
Let's think $500, $1,000, $2,000 or more, even if we have to borrow it or pay it off in installments on our credit cards. That bit of hardship for us will be easy compared to the tribulations of the Nepalese communities struggling to survive.
To donate, click on one of the links below (or find your own preferred organization) and follow what is usually a “To Donate” or "Donate Now" button where you can designate your gift to Nepal Earthquake relief. Donated this way, the funds will be available immediately.