Today, my bhaai finally called me back. Right when I saw the +977 country code for Nepal I started tearing up. And right when I heard his voice, I started bawling.
I tried to call him via Skype hours after the earthquake hit.
The epicentere was equidistant between Pokhara and Kathmandu, the two areas I spent all my time in in the near-three months I spent in the country of Nepal.
In Pokhara, we stayed in the Lakeside area by Phewa Lake. The buildings are spaced out and dispersed across the vast Lakeside area and foothills of the Himalayas. The highest buildings in the area are newer hotels. I figured that the area wouldn’t have seen the most destruction just based on what I’d remembered, and I was so glad to be accurate in that assumption. That is where the families who I have no way of contacting – the sweet family who always invited us over for dinner and whose children we always played soccer with – are living. They don’t have Facebook or Internet because they don’t have computers, and they don’t have mobile phones either. They always used their neighbors’.
Here is a video captured by my former traveling partner and friend, who was in Pokhara at the time:
But in Kathmandu, the buildings are much closer together, much older, and much taller. My bhaai, Dipesh, and his family resided in Kathmandu (in a rather large home, if you do recall me stating in earlier posts). He was who I was mainly worried about, in addition to my sound healer friend Chaitanyashree, whose business is located in the cramped quarters of Thamel, with tiny alley ways and always congested with traffic. I also worried about his kids at the orphanage.
When my Skype calls to Dipesh wouldn’t go through, I got so scared. Luckily for me one of our mutual friends reached out to me – upon seeing my concern via Facebook post – and let me know that she was in contact with the family and that they were OK.
I asked Dipesh on the phone earlier how he got my American phone number, as I never had it traveling. He told me that it was on a small piece of paper I gave to him, one that I told him never to lose. On it I wrote down my USA address and phone number for him to use the day he got married. I told him he’d better invite me to his wedding. “Of course, Didi!” He told me they’d lost everything in their home. All personal items were under collapsed debri, electronics completely destroyed. But still, he kept safe this one little paper with my details. My sweet, sweet brother.
I have been so lucky as to have been in contact with the majority of my loved ones in Nepal, and I am happy to say they are all OK. I know there are many who are not so lucky. I have found myself, today and yesterday, in a constant state of grievance. Every time I close my eyes I have nightmares. And yet here I am, across the world, far away from the dangers. I wish I could be there to help. I wish I could be there to lend a hand, provide support, to hug my little babies.
But for now this is what I, and we all in the United States, can do:
This is the source that is nearest and dearest to me. Jordan of our PRCPTION Travel team is now in the Gorkha area in Pokhara assisting HelpNepal.ca in the delivery of necessities to rural communities. Follow the link to stay updated on their efforts and donate.
Here are 12 other vetted charities doing relief work following the Nepal earthquake as cited by PRI.org:
10. World Help
As mentioned in the PRI.org article, it is always important to ensure that the organization you choose to donate to is one that is legitimate. Charity Navigator is a great source which ranks different organizations and non profits who are active in relief efforts.
Unfortunately there are a lot of scam artists out there trying to take advantage of these types of disasters, which ends up taking money from the kind-hearted souls who want to help, and even more, deprives the victims of donations that could be making a difference in their lives. Check out the other organizations I did not mention via Charity Navigator’s accredited list of organizations involved in the Nepal earthquake relief efforts, complete with rankings of each.