Homecoming from Nepal

The day after Nepal’s earthquake.
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For as long as I can remember, Nepal was “overdue” for another great earthquake. 

I grew up with this knowledge, along with emergency drills at school and a helmet and crowbar under my bed. Every time we had a tremor I’d panic, thinking it was the long-awaited “big one”. 

Moving away from home to Queen’s in 2013 only made me homesick. I was leaving my family behind and I felt powerless, as I had little control and knowledge of my family’s well-being. While I was gone, Nepal suffered from minor quakes, paralyzing me with fear 

None of this prepared me for that call at three in the morning on April 25, 2015. 

Although, none of my close friends or family were hurt, I felt nauseous for days following the quake. There was so much uncertainty that I called my parents many times a day to make sure they were still safe. 

I was obsessed with the news and watched the death toll rise, refusing to sleep so I could keep checking. I heard about friends who’d lost their homes, lost relatives and hated myself for the selfish grief I was experiencing when I’d been so lucky.

My flight to Kathmandu, Nepal shortly after the disaster was packed full of men with shaved heads — a common practice in Nepal after the death of a family member. The country was in a state of mourning. I was welcomed home that night with a 5.3 aftershock.

Strangely, despite worrying about earthquakes daily, I’d never thought of the aftermath. I’d only worried about survival. Now I’ve realized that what’s comes after is even worse.

International Aid was amazing and I was blown away by the generosity I saw. Within the local community, everyone I know has been doing what they can, from distributing food and clothes to raising money, in hopes of restoring our home. 

But Nepal, a developing country, was horribly unprepared and there are still areas yet to be reached with relief. Thousands of people are still sleeping in tents and children are out of school. There are piles of rubble, waiting to be cleared. One of the country’s biggest sources of income, tourism, has stopped in its tracks. Suicide has increased as more and more people fall into debt.

There’ve been hundreds of tremors since the initial quake, as well as two further large earthquakes that killed several hundred and injured several thousand. Nepal’s future seems scarily uncertain and sometimes I wonder if it’ll ever be able to pick itself back up.

With a new school year just around the corner, I know leaving my home in Nepal will be harder than ever. But I have faith in my people, for they’re a resilient and determined kind. 

It’ll be a long time until I feel like myself again, but I know that being back with my Queen’s family will only make it easier. The amount of love, care and support I’ve received has and will continue to astound me. I feel lucky to be a part of the Queen’s community and only hope I’ll have a painless return.

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