By Susie Rain
Editor’s note: Baptist Global Response, the Southern Baptist humanitarian organization with which IMB partners, released $50,000 for initial relief efforts in the aftermath of Nepal’s massive earthquake. This quick response provides hurting people with basic survival needs like water, shelter, food and healthcare. Your donations to BGR’s Nepal Earthquake Response Fund will provide continued emergency response as needs rise in the disaster area.
NEPAL (BP)—It was the “big one.” Everyone in Nepal has expected it to come for the last decade. Years of prep work and response plans were sitting in the wings just waiting for the elusive earthquake to roar to life.
It came. Saturday. April 25. 7.8 magnitude. Death toll: 5,800-plus (and rising).
Sometimes plans don’t always come together exactly how envisioned. Instead of “instant” aid reaching people, roads were blocked by landslides or just completely crumbled. Instead of one earthquake, there have been more than 100 aftershocks — and still counting —, hindering rescue efforts.
Each time the nation’s capital, Kathmandu, shudders with aftershocks, it’s just a reminder the nightmare is not over. Uncertainty exists over what the earthquake has wrought and what the future might hold. The true extent of disasters don’t often become clear until weeks afterward, as digging out gains momentum and relief teams such as Baptist Global Response assess needs.
Van Townes,* an international Christian worker, admits bathing and hot food are luxuries right now, maybe even a dream. Finding food — any kind of food — and drinking water are top priorities.
Vegetable and fruit trucks from villages have been unable to make it into the city — and the question remains whether vegetables or wares have survived. Food vendors are bare, and while people often are prepared to some degree for “the big one” with a store of food, some can’t even get to their provisions because their homes are destroyed or too unstable to enter. Looting is a reality, even in this country known for kindness and generosity in taking care of people.
To add to the uncertainty, people still sleep in the streets and open fields, even in the rain. It’s night three for the makeshift tents and campsites decorating the city along open fields and streets. International workers Marcia Neely* and Bekah Rivers* said there’s not much sleep in these open spaces. The tremors come too often. The fears return.
“We’re snuggled in our land cruiser, and I think everyone is asleep or at least trying,” Neely said. “The kids are hearing and feeling the tremors … watching the water in the glass ripple. But right now it is so quiet … even the street dogs are quiet. The street dogs are never silent here!”
In the silence, people have time to think. Rivers concluded that, in her opinion, earthquakes are different from other natural disasters — due to the constant aftershocks, there is no certain end or prediction for when those affected can get on with life … when they can start their disaster-response plan which was so carefully plotted.
“When you are in crisis mode, the schedule goes out the window,” Rivers said. “The daytime is for making sure gas tanks are filled; there is food for everyone; water is pumped while we have limited electricity; and (whether) people have shelter. … We are living in community now. We are all here to help one another.”
The most basic elements — food, water, and shelter — are part of “the plan.” When people donate to BGR’s Nepal Earthquake Response fund, it provides for first responder needs like basic survival.
Evert Swinson,* an international Christian worker, explained that if there is going to be an impact in Nepal for the kingdom, then it’s going to be through efforts like this — living in community and through local Christians and churches.
“I can’t imagine an organization more strategically prepared to respond. They [BGR] are a trusted partner for us,” Swinson said. “I encourage you to give to this fund and help empower believers to respond to this disaster.”
Phase two of the relief plan is already underway. A BGR representative arrived in Kathmandu Monday, April 27, to start assessments of damage and to see how relief workers can make the biggest impact.
“We are so tired, and when you mix that in with the adrenaline ups and downs, we feel ‘out of it,’” Rivers said. “Meeting with BGR and developing a plan for the next few days and even weeks ahead is like a light of hope. We are thankful for people who can come in and think clearly about a plan of action when we are just trying to live through the crisis ourselves.”
There is urgency to the need. Devastation can spread its roots beyond the immediate crisis of the first few days. Conditions are not sanitary for so many living in crammed, makeshift camps. Disease likely will follow and spread. As roads open up to rural Nepal, there will be more reports of death and devastation.
But there will also be more reports of local Christians and churches reaching out and “living in community” … more opportunities to offer water and shelter to neighbors … and more opportunities for the Nepali church to step forward and find its voice.
Sometimes plans don’t always come together exactly how envisioned, but they do come together.
Play a part in “the plan” and donate to BGR’s Nepal Earthquake Response fund.
Susie Rain is an IMB writer in Asia. Marie Curtis contributed to this article.