Lions Member Center
Earthquake Devastation in Nepal
(Visit by PID Naresh Aggarwal)
Dear Lion Philip Nathan
Every story worth telling has a hero, a villain and a message. It may tell us about specific people, but it teaches us something about what we all are really like.
In my 41 years of service, I have heard many riveting stories. However, my visit to Nepal this month has to be the most powerful story I have ever seen.
Tribute to people of Nepal
The villain of this story is someone we cannot even understand. The motives of Nature will forever be beyond our comprehension. It has filled the gates of heaven with young angels.
I have visited Nepal many times over the years. The Nepalese people are almost always modest of themselves, respectful of others and fearing of God. Their elevated land is one of exceptional beauty. This same land that has made their country famous has now made them pay an insufferable price.
Over 7,000 people have left us. Over 100,000 have been stolen of a home. Over 10,000 recover from injury. In Kathmandu, funeral pyres burn through the day and night. The eyes of the survivors are hazed with shock.
They spent their entire life building a home. They worked their entire life to support a family. Many of them have now lost both. Their life’s work has been taken away by a moment of Nature’s anger.
Now, their first struggle is simply to survive. Clean water and food are in short supply. The street is the only bed and the stars are the only blanket. Nature has failed them. Can human nature save them?
The heroes of this story are among us. Since the need arose, Lions have risen. The Lions of Nepal, captained by PCC Sanjay Khetan, MCC Bharat Dhugal & many more leaders have led the charge. I have seen their work in
Kathmandu, the villages of Kantipur & Bhaktpur etc. Lions are working day and night. Every day, we are saving lives in Nepal. We are also giving hope for a new life.
Lions are distributing food, water, clothes, sanitary ware etc. The queues for each item are very long and full of tension. I could see the fear in people’s eyes.
They realize that surviving the aftermath of an earthquake is as difficult as surviving the event itself. Life in Nepal still hangs in a very delicate balance. LCIF sent immediately $ 100000 for Emergency relief.
Donations have come from Lions across the world. Some have pledged money, others have shipped basic necessities. A team of Lions from The British Isles & Ireland sent a plane full of water purifiers.
The team of Lions on the ground is doing their best to stretch every dollar for maximum effect. Every donation will make a difference.
Call for more effort
There is a fine line between peace and chaos. We are at this very focal point right now. The Lions of Nepal have shown the victims that order and discipline will be rewarded. Without these rewards, there is no imagining what may happen. Together, we must see the people of Nepal through this most testing time.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In times of hunger, God can come only in the form of bread.” Every volunteer is a hero. So is every donor.
As Lions, we pray and hope. Most importantly, we act. Every person who has acted has proven to be a hero.
However, this story has no hope of a happy ending. There is no hope of justice. Or of victory. There is only the hope of hope. The survivors must see hope again. They must look forward to a new life. They must smile again.
The economic damage of this earthquake has been estimated at US$10 billion, which is half the annual Gross Domestic Product of the country. The people of Nepal have always lived very humble lives.
The GDP per capita below US$2 per day. 40% of the population is unemployed. This country needs heroes. It needs faith from the world.
The message of this story is simple. As long as we are alive, there is a reason to live. A reason to be thankful. There is still hope for Nepal.
24 hours after the quake, almost all Nepali troops and police were deployed. They received some radars from the French Army that detect human breathing. Soon, a 4 month old baby was pulled from under his collapsed home. For this baby, there is still hope. We shall give him a reason to live.
120 hours later, civilians continued to dig through the remains of a flattened hotel. Nearby, a foreign medical center still kept a set of ambulances with emergency first aid. It seemed like they were digging for a cemetery rather than for a rescue. However, all of a sudden, a stray dog barked. Something was breathing beneath the rubble. A few minutes later, a teenage employee of the hotel was pulled out alive. The ambulance gave him an intra-venous injection. After 5 days on the brink, his eyes finally opened. For him, there is still hope.
The average victim has lost his home and a large part of his family. However, he still reaches out to contact relatives who may still be alive. He gathers his belongings in a bag and wonders how he could make money. He lies down on the street corner to get some rest in the night before battling the next day. There is still hope in his heart.
Mt. Everest is only a few hundred kilometers north of Kathmandu. It’s 8.6 kilometers (5 miles) shook that day, causing avalanches that immediately killed 17 climbers. In 1924, the British Empire had sent their renowned explorer, George Mallory, to make the first serious attempt to conquer the world’s tallest peak. When asked why he would make such a massive effort to climb the mountain, Mr. Mallory replied, “Because it’s there”.
Our task is very similar. Why should we make such a massive effort to help the survivors? Because they are there. Because they are still alive. And it’s also because we are here. On the same planet. The same things make us smile and laugh. We just need to share the happiness. Together, we will make Nepal smile again.
Yours in the cause of service
PID Naresh Aggarwal Endorsed Candidate for 2nd Vice President 2015 Honalulu, Hawaii-2015 Convention