World Vision's National Education Manager for the Nepal Earthquake Response plays with children in a Temporary Learning Centre. Photo by Crislyn Felisilda, World Vision
On April 25th, I was inside the Kathmandu coliseum together with other World Vision colleagues, playing a football game. Suddenly, a big tremor turned our world upside down. I saw the ground moving like waves. The rumbling sounded like thunder, followed by screams of people. The buildings and houses started to collapse. It was like watching a movie. Until now, remembering that scenario still scares me.
With a sinking heart, I knew then that the devastation from the earthquake would be massive. I suddenly thought about my family. My wife, parents, and siblings live at the opposite side of Kathmandu. I tried to call them but the connection was down. In some couple of hours, I got relief after receiving a message from my wife that they’re all safe.
It’s hard to remember how many more tremors came after the first big tremor. All I could remember was that the earthquake alarm kept going off followed a few seconds later by shaking ground and the rumbling sound. I am no stranger to earthquakes in my country but it was by far the strongest I’ve experienced.
Seeing the devastation, somehow I found myself lucky to survive. The earthquake flattened many villages in Nepal, making hundreds of thousands of people homeless. More than 8000 people died and thousands were injured. It was the saddest day in Nepal.
My worries and anxieties were totally overwhelming. But I told myself, now I’m safe, what should I do next? As a humanitarian worker, I felt the urgency to do something. Though this was my first time responding to a disaster, I’m called to help my brothers and sisters in Nepal. They need food, water, shelter, and medical assistance. I’m thankful World Vision ha been able to respond quickly to deliver aid to the affected communities.
Now I’m the National Education Manager in World Vision’s Nepal Earthquake Response. One of our goals is to provide safe learning spaces for children to continue their schooling. We have close coordination with the government. I see the importance of working with them. Aside from hard work, our team is trying our best to be creative to deliver solutions.
More than two months after the first earthquake, thousands of families are still in the open spaces, some huddled under tarpaulin tents. Others use blankets to protect them from the cold. Children are still scared of the aftershocks. I’m worried for them, knowing that the monsoon is coming.
My job is tough because the majority of the schools in the country collapsed. Besides that, our team is having a difficult time reaching the affected places. We travel hills to reach the villages and we feel scared of aftershocks and landslides. It’s never been easy but my team is not giving up. In most of our communities, there’s a lack of human resource capacity to implement some our projects. However, we are teaching the community the skills that they need to fast track the aid. We are empowering them to recover.
Like a football game, I see this response as teamwork. The government couldn’t do it alone or World Vision or the community people themselves. We also need donors to run our projects. We need one another to finish the goal.
Every child is the heart of World Vision’s response. I’m grateful that the smiles of the children inside the temporary learning shelters are inspiring me to keep going. But sad to say, thousands of children, particularly in rural areas, continue to suffer still. Even before the quake, Nepal was already one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. The children and families certainly need all the support they can get for relief and recovery in the coming days.