Tag: khusi hona

Hope and smile in Nepal

We had decided to join Khusi Hona team in their endeavor to help the needy at one of the relief camp in Bhaktapur. Slept in the tent that night to start our journey the next day. Was almost a sleepless night as the thought of quake while sleeping loomed. Woke up early to learn it shaked at about 4 am (2nd one in 2 days).

Khusi Hona is an organisation registered in Florida, US and primarily working towards upliftment of orphans in the Indian Subcontinent and some parts of South East Asia. They decided to put their expertise to help the quake victims in Nepal.

We met Geet from Khusi Hona who was leading the team to the relief camp. They were going to buy relief materials and then head to the camp. We decided to join them straight at the camp. Drove to Bhaktapur. The camp was setup at a school called Zenith English School in Bhaktapur. It had I think about 20 odd families. Khusi Hona had created a list of the families living at the camp and were going to distribute the materials to them. There were a team of about 6-8 people and we and another couple were joining them.

Relief camp at Bhaktapur
Relief camp at Bhaktapur

On reaching the camp Geet gave me a box of candies and some toys to take care of the kids while others will distribute the material to the families.

I called all the kids to one of the tents, luckily Hindi helped. Asked them to ‘Basun’ (Sit in Nepali). There were about 20 kids, the youngest was 18 months and I think the oldest would had been 12-13. The kids were excited about the fact they were going to get their treats. They had an excitement on their face and for a moment me and them had forgotten the devastation that had struck them and the despair caused to them. Seeing them no one could say they were recovering from a calamity.

Kids at the relief camp
Kids at the relief camp

Distributed them the candies and got to know the little mischief. They were not hesitant from singing for us or doing a lil gig. All of them used to go to schools and were a confident bunch. I tried taking a selfie and everyone was over me. We didnt feel we were strangers a moment before. Lorene had joined me in playing with the kids and the kids were as comfortable with her even though she had a language gap.

Selfie with the kids
Selfie with the kids
With the mischief bunch
With the mischief bunch

While I was distributing the candies a few old women asked for them. I told them it was for the kids. They responded they had a kid in them. A fact of life most of us forget as we grow. They were in sync with life.

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Lorene with the kids

The rest of the team were distributing the materials ranging from basic food supplies, to medicines, sanitary pads to the women, hygiene products like tooth paste, brush etc. I think they were a little disorganized. They had a list of the families and they were distributing the same things to all families. I think they should had packed everything in a bag for each family and distributed the bags. Would had been easy for them to store. Also a few things like they were distributing sanitary pads to old women rather than the teenage girls. Well its just a matter of perception.

Khusi Hona is doing a good job. However, I feel the people at the camps at Bhaktapur are over fed and well looked after being in the city and being taken care by a bunch of NGOs. There were some people who had joined the team that day that felt more like a photo op and I think they should avoid such people if their intent is, which I think it is, to do some genuine relief work. I still would urge people to donate to Khusi Hona, their intent is right and they are doing good stuff and for Nepal as they need them. Check the link to their facebook page for more info: http://www.facebook.com/KhusiHona and their website: http://www.khusihona.org

The experience at the camp left a void in me. I felt I was more traumatized by the quake, not even having experienced it. The people had a smile and calmness in them which was lacking in me. They had hope and confidence unlike the people I met in Kathmandu. I could feel they were ready to move on and get back to normal soon. It was a striking difference to the people in Kathmandu. I realized the more knowledge we have it adds on to the burden of recovering.

We got back and had another visit to a neighboring village fixed for the next day. Wait for the next part, the village trip was my moment of waking up.

It was a satisfying day and made me stronger as a human. I thought for once its everyone’s duty to get to Nepal and do their bit. Get a little karmic and do your karma guys. As I write this I have already planned my next trip to Nepal and help a few more people stand back and get started with their lives.

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Nepal Quake – Hell in Heaven

Nepal, a neighbour that’s ngoas Indian as India can get, yet a character unlike India. It’s a place that has a special place for me and the reason I have been here for times unknown. Struck by a natural calamity that was one of the most devastating in the recent age.relie

Oindin 25 April when the earthquake hit I was at my home in Delhi with my parents. I sitting on the bed and felt the tremor. Told my mom. It was a strong one and lasted for ages. At that very moment I had the thought, considering the magnitude the epicenter must have been anywhere in Nepal, Afghanistan or southern India. I hoped it was not Nepal as it would be devastating knowing the topography and preparedness. Checked twitter and found the quake was of 7.8 magnitude (some people say it was 8.1) and the epicenter was in Barpak in Gorkha district about 70 km off Kathmandu. I knew that the fury was unfurled. The first day news said around 600 casualties and some damage to property. I knew it couldn’t be true and the reality will be known in times to come considering the remoteness of villages in Nepal.

My fear came true. Nepal was shattered and taken further years back in comparison to us. Read about it and saw pictures of the devastation. Couldn’t fathom what it would be like in Kathmandu and Nepal. The distinction as I believe Kathmandu is not even half close to the gorgeous other part of Nepal. I decided I had to do my bit.

On 16 May we took a flight to Kathmandu. The route from the airport to Courtyard made me think did they really exaggerate the quake? No damage was seen. Reached Courtyard and saw cracks in the hotel walls and stairs. People were sleeping in the outside and they had a fear unknown to me. I still didn’t understand the devastation. Went for a walk in Thamel (the main tourist locality in Kathmandu). Everything was shut. It was like a dead city. Got back to hotel and had a quake measuring 5.5. The scare continued.

We walked to Durbar Square. A big school was razed and temples severely damaged.

High School at Durbar Square
High School at Durbar Square
Temple at Durbar Square
Temple at Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square

Was late at night sitting with a bunch of people discussing their experiences. Some were in Kathmandu and one was at the Everest Base Camp during the quake. There was a strange calmness, the one that gives you a chill down the spine. That’s when I realized what the quake did. It had shattered the people more than the structures. Made them believe how tiny we are when it comes to gods fury. People were waiting for something bigger and more devastating.

We drove down to Bhaktapur the next day. It’s one of the ancient city of Nepal. Famous for its durbar square which houses some beautiful temples and monuments. We passed through relief camps built in public parks and even at the Kathmandu Golf course. Hundreds staying in tents living on supplies by the government and the NGOs. Read an article in the local newspaper, someone at a relief camp termed life at the camp as a picnic yet the thought of future scared her. Bhaktapur was not the same this time. The beautiful Durbar square was broken. Ancient temples got razed. Monuments were down and those still standing have been marked as unsafe to enter.

Street at Bhaktapur
Street at Bhaktapur
Warning outside a museum in Bhaktapur
Warning outside a museum in Bhaktapur

We went walking around Bhaktapur. There were lanes were 7 out of 10 houses were down. People had lost their houses and families. They knew nothing about how they would stand back even closer to where they were before. There was a strange sadness and gloom. Was driving back and saw people smiling and waving at me. Realized the sadness was my inner introspection.

I was ready to walk out and meet people. Walk out of my comfort and know the reality. Help them with whatever I could. Walk out to a learning I never thought I would get at a calamity struck zone. Walk to a new life for them and for me.

Met a bunch of guys doing some humanitarian work through an NGO called ‘Khusi Hona’. They sounded true and invited us to join them in aid distribution at a relief camp at Bhaktapur the next day. It was the start.