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From Inside an Earthquake – Part 1

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The following is a first person account from Suman Sapkota of RetailROI Partner Free for Life Since we started partnering with Free For Life, over 552 children had been rescued from human trafficking. On April 25th, the mission changed as a massive earthquake hit the region…here is his story.

It was 2am here in the US when I was awakened to a call from my sister. She told me that there was a massive earthquake in Nepal and she was not able to get ahold of our mother and Peace Rehabilitation Center (PRC) President, Shanta. I was stunned with fear, because I knew she was traveling to visit a girl PRC had recently rescued from trafficking in India. I couldn’t sleep. The news said named the districts hardest hit by the earthquake. I was sick to my stomach because I knew she was in one of the epicenter districts. I was ready to hear the worst, but after two hours we finally got through. She had left a building that collapsed in the earthquake a mere 10 seconds later. Her voice shaky, anguished and fearful, she explained that those ten seconds saved the life of two PRC board members, one full time staff, and herself. I could not bear to be in the United States thinking of all the Nepalese that needed my help. After praying and seeking wisdom, I decided to return to Nepal and help in the Aid efforts. I contacted all of the male PRC staff and told them to prepare to go into the community to help.

3 Days later I was in Nepal.

When I arrived in Kathmandu I was in shock at the state of the country. There was destruction everywhere. As I was leaving the airport I saw the sky filled with smoke. This smoke was from Pashupati, a Hindu shrine where people cremate their loved ones along the Baghmati river. Thousands upon thousands of people were gathering to cremate their loved ones. Seeing this shattered me, but there was not time for grievances as I knew there were thousands more waiting desperately for help.

Utilizing the funds from RetailROI and other compassionate donors we compiled a team from PRC staff and the community. We knew there was massive need and we had a big challenge in front of us. The team wanted to head to more remote areas that would be difficult to get supplies into. We split our team into three groups. One team focused in Gorkha, another in Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot and Dolakha, and the third team supplied food and tarpaulins, for shelter, to both locations. The team and I reached remote areas before international organizations, like the United Nations were even able to access these areas.

Gorkha was our first location for earthquake relief. It was challenging to get there due to it being a rugged mountain area, with the roadways destroyed from the earthquake. This community was a poor and deprived area before the earthquake, so post- earthquake the little they had was gone. We had to hike in many of the supplies.

After Gorkha, we were following a truck full of our supplies towards Dolakha, an untouchable community. This community has a large population of Christians, an outcast community in Nepal. We were on our way when the truck abruptly stopped. The sky turned black, and all of the sudden a large rock hit the truck and the driver jumped out and ran. We realized we were just below a mile long landslide. We escaped, were all scared to death, but we had to keep going to help those in need. We convinced the driver to keep going up. In all with your provision we provided over 6 tons of food and supplies to every household in this community.

Part of my role this day was shuttling between this area and where we had a medical team in the mountainous village of Pangtang. As I was on my motorcycle making the trek I heard the loud blast of an aftershock. The entire mountain in front of me was collapsing. I was in the middle of a landslide! A large rock hit my bike and I jumped off. Moments later, rocks as large as cars began tumbling down the mountain. I had no choice but to jump off a 30 foot ledge into a river to try and escape. I heard screams of death as people were buried alive by this landslide. I miraculously survive, thanks to what I can only say is Divine protection.

As mentioned with the help of RetailROI and other donors we reached remote areas before international organizations, like the United Nations were even able to access these areas. We reached five remote VDC’s (Village Development Committee) of Sindhupalchok and provided over 30 tons (66,000 lbs.) of food and supplies and provided tarps to over 3,600 families. We also supplied over 500 families with tarpaulins in Nuwakot that did not have shelter. PRC reached out to 8+ VDC (Village Development Committee), and supplied over 25 tons (60,000 lbs.) of food and supplies and provided tarps and shelter to over 4,000 families in the epicenter of the earthquake destruction. PRC team also had medical personnel that provided direct health care to over 1,000 injured people in the remote areas of Gorkha, Sindhupalchok and Dolakha districts. In sum, over 10,000 families were directly helped and over 145,000 pounds of relief supplies were distributed by the PRC team. PRC, Free for Life and I would like to thank RetailROI and everyone who prayed and/or contributed to this mission.

Part 1 of 2
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