State of Shock in Nepal Former Ambassador to Nepal Mourns Earthquake Victims, Praises Nepalese People
My daughter Ellen and her husband arrived in Kathmandu March 4, 2015, on the Turkish Airline flight that skidded off the runway and cracked up on landing. Miraculously, nobody was hurt. They then saw a lot of old friends, and Ellen continued her ongoing research documenting the life histories of some of the old Newar women that had been midwives and sages for their community.
Early on April 25, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck in Nepal, causing widespread devastation and loss of life. This image shows some of the damage in Kathmandu valley. (Photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi / UNDP Nepal.)
Ellen was on the top floor of an old house in Bhaktipur Saturday when the earthquake struck. Pieces of ceiling rained down while the house rolled around like a boat in very rough seas. She managed to get down rickety stairs and outdoors while the building collapsed, but her shoes were buried in the rubble. The old lady survived too; being on the top floor, she ended on top of the rubble, still in bed.
Ellen and Ted, her husband, are staying with Nepalese friends in a relatively safe neighborhood across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu center. She’s still all right as of this writing, but devastated emotionally by upwards of 4,000 people killed so far and the destruction of so many of the old temples and monuments she knows and loves. The hospitals are overflowing and the army is still hard at work rescuing people trapped in the rubble. The whole country is in a state of shock.
This earthquake is a massive tragedy for a unique and wonderful country, but I am confident that the Nepalese people will emerge from the rubble with the same vitality and adaptability they have shown in hauling themselves out of feudalism in only three or four generations.
Humanist Disaster Recovery, a joint project between the American Humanist Association and Foundation Beyond Belief, is raising funds to help with the recovery effort in the wake of the Nepal earthquake. Please donate.