Recently, Mr. Sudeep Pagedar from Mumbai volunteered in Nepal as a research & documentation officer at Panchakanya V.D.C., Nuwakot. He’s done his Masters in Arts and Disaster management. After the quake hit on Nepal, he somehow managed to come to Nepal to contribute his disaster management skills through an organization “Doctors for You” which was supported by “PATA Nepal Chapter”. Here he shares his first ever international disaster response experience.
"Overcoming all the challenges to serve the community that was in need was the only factor that boosted me continuously to undertake this rare opportunity."
A guy like me living in Mumbai coming to Nepal in this situation was a huge decision. Before coming to Nepal I knew Kathmandu and Mt. Everest which was the whole picture of Nepal for me. I had lived in a village before but not for 10 continuous days in a disaster condition. Everything was a challenge. Getting to an isolated village across devastated mountainous roads, being cut off with all technology that connected me to my home and the uncertainty of disaster that could hit back any time were nerve racking experiences. However, overcoming all the challenges to serve the community that was in need was the only factor that boosted me continuously to undertake this rare opportunity.
"The best thing about Nepalese is that they dare to cater extraordinary hospitality to visitors of any sorts despite the awful conditions they are in."
During the time I worked at Panchakanya I got inter-connected with the place and people over there. We were outsiders still we never felt that. The best thing about Nepalese is that they dare to cater extraordinary hospitality to visitors of any sorts despite the awful conditions they are in.
"When needed you need to give up everything that’s been your life and do something. But one thing is for sure it will give you that satisfaction which you won’t be finding anywhere else, not even in the most luxurious clubs of Mumbai, Delhi or Kathmandu."
The most important thing I’d like to say to any potential volunteer: “When needed you need to give up everything that’s been your life and do something. But one thing is for sure it will give you that satisfaction which you won’t be finding anywhere else, not even in the most luxurious clubs of Mumbai, Delhi or Kathmandu. That’s the kind of high you get! But you’re not doing it for the high, you’re doing it for the sake of doing it and the high is just the side effect.” IT’S NOT EASY BUT IT’S WORTH IT! But before coming you need to have some genuine skills to offer and I believe everyone has something to offer.
"When you start volunteering you move beyond your organization and yourself and then you become a part of the community."
This is a message to all the people “if you want to do something you can always find the ways to do it. Volunteering might not be paid. For a guy like me if I do the same thing elsewhere I’ll make some money. But this volunteering itself is a payment. I can use this experience in future which will be beneficial for me. While you are working you need to have the sense of ownership. When you start volunteering you move beyond your organization and yourself and then you become a part of the community.
"So if you want to do it- do it! If you can do it- do it! Just don’t think you can’t do it!"
At last, It’s not an easy decision to come to a disaster zone to volunteer, but at the end when you’re done with it and you go back, you realize that you small role you has made a big difference. Plus, whoever comes to Nepal right now, they’ve got a huge opportunity. They will be in the frontline of building an entire nation in every way. Nepal is an ideal place to work, especially in the development sectors where you will get to learn a lot of things. So if you want to do it- do it! If you can do it- do it! Just don’t think you can’t do it!
A random guy from Mumbai did it; I urge every professionals of Nepal and around the world, give it a try. Trust me the happiness you see in the faces of victims is the priceless payment that values more than anything else.
Amrita Singh Tamang- a nurse by profession who was the part of medical campaign in Panchakanya V.D.C. of Nuwakot organized by “Doctors For You” in collaboration with “PATA Nepal Chapter” shares her experience after her first volunteering session in Nuwakot.
"I felt little disheartened but it was more than okay because I was still on the noble mission of helping the quake survivors. I soon realized my actions mattered not the place."
My teacher connected me with “Doctors for You”. Knowing the fact this humanitarian organization was planning to work in quake affected regions of Sindhuplanchowk, I was really looking forward to serve the victims of the quake of the district, which is also my home. However, the last minute change in plan asked us to go to Nuwakot. I felt little disheartened but it was more than okay because I was still on the noble mission to serve the quake survivors. I soon realized my actions mattered not the place.
Being a nurse to be a part of Medical Team that aimed to contribute the medical expertise in isolated disaster suffered region, I was very much grateful to Doctors for You and PATA Nepal Chapter. Since, we were in Nuwakot after all rescue operation; the only thing we aimed was to lessen the epidemic diseases that can occur after the disaster.
"I knew no one there, I had no idea where to sleep and the biggest challenge was I had no clue about the team I was working with and the people I was helping."
For a girl like me, who always had the sophisticated lifestyle in Kathmandu, to be in quake struck isolated village of Nuwakot was a huge challenge. I knew no one there, I had no idea where to sleep and the biggest challenge was I had no clue about the team I was working with and the people I was helping. Eight hours of work every day, no weekend break and no electricity to charge my gadgets were the last things I would prefer experiencing throughout my career. However, the smiles on the faces of the quake victims our team was able to put after all the nightmares these survivors had gone through were boosting me to continue my job at Nuwakot. Pretty soon I realized, I was here to serve. I was not on a holiday. I was with the people who really needed me. I was not a duty I was assigned for; it was an opportunity I chose to serve the humanity.
Interacting with the local people around there was the one of the good things that happened to us. The people were very humble and generous. Through our regular general check up, we got know to about the different problems that people are facing after the earthquake. We provided them basic knowledge about personal hygiene, drinking habits and did some treatments. We even provided some psychosocial support to the people who were mentally traumatized because of the quake that swept their everything. Since most of the people were living in tents, so the disease they were more prone to were diarrhea and respiratory tract infection.
"I realized my small effort to comfort my people has given the biggest satisfaction, which is priceless."
On the final note, I request everyone whatever expertise you have contribute your skills for a while to these needy people who are one of us. I realized my small effort to comfort my people has given the biggest satisfaction, which is priceless. I urge everyone who really wants to help Nepal and the quake victim Nepalese to be the part of the change that we have always been willing to have. I am happy as I have become the part of this change.
Amrita Singh Tamang
Nepal hit the headlines of global media after the quake 25/04. Devastation prevails in few parts of central Nepal but the rest of the Himalayan country is absolutely safe as if the quake never struck in these places. Nepal is still the ideal destination for travelers seeking diversified alpine adventures and it still has many sites that manifest the glorified cultural legacy of sovereign country.
Few monuments in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kathmandu collapsed but many of them still stand tall. Trekking Regions like Langtang and Manaslu suffered the tremor of the quake but the regions like Annapurna, Dolpo, Kanchenjunga and Everest are still intact and are as beautiful as they were before 25/04.
The disaster has gone and the recovery has begun. As a responsible travel agent based in Nepal, we assure you that Nepal is a safe destination to travel. Trust us and continue to travel Nepal because the biggest priority we put while operating tours and treks in Nepal is your safety. Once again we urge every foreign traveler to travel to Nepal.
Looking at the News Channels in Bangkok gave us an idea that the half of Kathmandu is destroyed by the quake that hit Nepal on April 25. We arrived to Kathmandu and found out that the degree of damages as the media is manifesting is nowhere close to the fact. Yes the Himalayan capital has suffered a bit but not at that level media is showing. Portraying Kathmandu as devastated town is a perfect example that negative news sells.
Andrew Jones Vice President PATA & Bert Van Walbeek Crisis Management & Recovery Specialist
24 May 2015, Mr. Andrew Jones and Mr. Bert Van Walbeek today at Hotel Radisson in Kathmandu addressed the key persons of Nepalese Tourism Industry during the inspiring presentation entitled “Bouncing Back Better”.
After the powerful quake, the entire Tourism Industry of Nepal has united to form Tourism Recovery Committee. To boost the energy of Recovery Committee and to support the campaign Mr. Jones and Mr. Walbeek accepted the invitation and arrived to Nepal in a very short notice. Amongst several other programs the Jones-Walbeek duo during the seminar delivered significant message to bounce back better from the state of crisis.
The brief presentation delivered by Crisis Management Expert, Van Walbeek highlighted the positive roles every tourism professional can play during the crisis into the tourism industry of Nepal. The presentation included the examples of successful campaigns implemented in different nations during the crisis of such levels. The bottom-line of the presentation suggested every attendee to do the right thing in the first time during the crisis.
Among the other speakers during the seminar was Mr. Suman Pandey the Chairman of PATA Nepal Chapter also the spokesperson of Tourism Recovery Committee, thanked Mr. Walbeek and Mr. Jones for the support. He also urged all his fellow professionals to participate in the Recovery Campaign and use their high profile networks to spread the positive news of Nepal in the global platform via social sites and the other means.
The Chief Administrative Officer of Nepal Tourism Board Mr. Ramesh Adhikari said, “The vision of Mr. Walbeek is the present necessity of Nepalese Tourism Industry”. He added, “If the expertise and experience of professionals like Walbeek and Jones integrates with the enthusiasm of Tourism Professionals of Nepal, the Campaign Bouncing Back Better would successfully achieve 100% result.
Chandra Mani Adhikari, the Officer of National Planning Commission and the Secretary of Ministry of Tourism Nepal Mr. Suresh Man Shrestha were also thankful to Mr. Jones and Walbeek. They expressed that the visionary support of Jones-Walbeek duo will boost in reviving the Tourism Industry of Nepal.
Today we are updating the status of remaining Heritage Sites and important destinations of Kathmandu after the quake 25/04. This update is based on Field Inspection on May 19 made by four teams of Explore Himalaya with one Sales Officer, one Photographer and one Tour Guide in each team.
This UNESCO Heritage Site in Kathmandu Valley that blends the Hinduism and Buddhism in the best way suffered significant loss during the quake 25/04. However, very few monuments in Patan Durbar Square have been completely demolished. Char Narayan Temple and a sattal (rest house) at Patan Durbar Square turned into debris. The monuments with slight damages, which can be renovated include Taleju Temple, Mahadev Temple, Bhimsen Temple, Mahabouddha Temple and the replica of Pashupatinath Temple among others. The Patan Museum also has suffered partial loss during the quake as per the officials.
Krishna Temple, Mayadevi Temple, Golden Temple, Minnath Temple and the Big Bell of Patan Durbar Square remained intact during the powerful quake of 25/04. The artistic Dhunge Dhara (Stone-Tap) at Patan Durbar Square suffered no loss at all during the quake.
Presently, the debris clearance at the site has been almost completed and soon the work of renovating the monuments will begin.
Note: Travelers have no access to explore inside the Durbar Square at the present. The Government Officials say, after three to four weeks once the work of renovation begins the site will be opened for the tourists.
Earthquake 25/04 has made significant impact on Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The Authorities at Bhaktapur Durbar Square said 67 monuments out of 116 at Bhaktapur have been demolished. Here we have the report on Bhaktapur Durbar Square, which is based on our filed visit. The shrines and edifices that survived the quake have larger significance culturally and historically compared to those, which have been demolished.
The famous Nyatapol Temple of Bhaktapur remains intact after the quake. The Big Bell of Bhaktapur stood tall along with the Bhimsen Temple and Dattatarya Temples among others. The Priest House, Siddhi Laxmi Temple and the replica of Muktinath Temple among others suffered minor damages where as the Temples of Shiva, Asi Dega and Batsala Devi among others have demolished.
Note: There is no access for the touristic activity at Bhaktapur at the present. Officials say the UNESCO World Heritage Site will be opened for the travelers in two to three weeks time as the work of renovation begins.
The 4th century Hindu Temple of Nepal, Changunarayan managed to stand against the tremor of quake 25/04. However, this ancient shrine has been partially damaged and hence the renovation is necessary so that the legacy of this temple continues to pass on for more generations to come. The main Temple of Changunarayan as well as Kileshowr Temple have been temporarily held with the support of wooden planks. The Entrance to the Temple also has suffered minor loss during the quake.
Note: The sightseeing tour of Changunarayan Temple is presently banned for the tourists. However, Government Authorities say, it will soon be opened for the touristic activity as the work of renovation begins here.