By Ishan Karanjit:
Yup, all ready to go to work. It was 25th April, 2015, around 4pm in Sydney. I was enjoying a cup of tea and having a quick go at my Facebook. After scrolling through a few posts, I was in utmost shock to see my hometown Basantapur drop down to rubble. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Scrolling through a few more posts, I figured that my country Nepal just had a 7.9 magnitude earthquake. That was the moment my mind fled. Scared and trembling, I tried to call my home but the network connection back home was almost dead due to the earthquake waves. I couldn’t go to work that day due to the sudden stress. I soon found out that there was a lot of destruction that had taken place in Nepal and more than half of our cultural heritage sites were destroyed. After hours of trying, my phone call finally reached home and I was very relieved to hear my family and relatives were safe and were staying outside in tents.
That was how I felt during this time, away from home. If we look at the bigger picture, the condition is even worse. It was referred to as the biggest earthquake in Nepal in the last 80 years. Having a peek at the casualties, the deaths so far were more than 8000 and the injuries were more than 18,000 and still counting. The destruction was mainly on the old, historic buildings and architecture that we were really famous for around the world. The historic buildings from the ancient period in Nepal, which were in the UNESCO World Heritage site, are highly damaged in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. Apart from this, the historic 9 storey tower called ‘Dharahara’ was also taken away from us by the earthquake. In the higher altitude, we faced an avalanche on the highest mountain peak of the world, Mount Everest, where we had at least 19 deaths and around 120 people missing. In addition to that, in the village areas of our country, we suffered a massive loss of human life and even a few villages were entirely destroyed by the landslides that had followed the earthquake. If that wasn’t enough, the monuments that we have in the UNESCO World Heritage site like the ancient Swayambhunath Stupa, Boudhdhanath Stupa and a lot of historic temples and architectural buildings were partially damaged too. In this difficult time, the last thing we want are the aftershocks that are still going on, scaring people.
As I wrote this article (on 12th May 2015), I got the news there was another huge earthquake of around 7.4 magnitude in Nepal again. This was the second biggest one this month.
Even though we suffered such big earthquakes, we have not given up yet. There is a lot of foreign aid that is coming up to help the needy and the people who lost everything in this disaster. Rescue works are being carried out simultaneously. The government is trying its best to make sure the people affected get food and shelter. The people themselves are also doing donation and awareness programs for the victims, in the fields of sanitation, shelter, food and rescue works.
We Nepalese have faced such huge earthquakes and many natural disasters in the past and have successfully risen up from them. And I’m very sure that this time, with the help of the people, government and all the aid that we have been receiving, we will rise again. The most unfortunate thing at the moment is that the earthquakes are knocking on our doorsteps again and again, and it is really disturbing to ask how much can we take?? There is the huge possibility of Post Traumatic Disorders or serious mental stress for people living far away from home in foreign lands. Having said that, we are still fighting against the cruelty of nature in Nepal and, as history shows, we believe within that we will get through it. We have a hashtag trending in Facebook and Twitter that says, #WeWillRiseAgain, and it is right. I pray to God everyday to very soon make my country as stable and normal as it was before.
JAY NEPAL !
(I’d like to dedicate this article to my friends and families back home in Nepal.)
By Ishan Karanjit
UWS – Parramatta campus
(From Kathmandu, Nepal)