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. You can read part 1 of this story here:
A week after we arrived it was a hazy Saturday in the mountain village of Pangtang. This was the first time I had been to this community and we came with earthquake relief aid. The sky had been rainy and cold all morning, so women were sitting in front of fires in their kitchens to warm up. Other members of the village were just returning from the jungle bringing back grass and firewood. The Christians in the community were at church during the 10-12pm weekly service. Local Hindu families were waiting for the local Hindu priest to arrive to do puja (worship).
Suddenly at 11:56am, we all felt and heard the trembling of another earthquake. It did not take more than a few seconds for the church building across the street to collapse in front of my eyes. At the same time the earthquake had caused a massive landslide in the surrounding hills of this village. There was no warning for people to have the chance to run. 3 people died in the collapse of the church, and over 80 more died in the village.
I had met Shakuntala (picture here), a 5 year old girl playing in the front of her yard before the earthquake hit. Her parents were waiting on the local Hindi priest. The priest arrived a few minutes before the earthquake hit. When the priest arrived, all nine members of Shakuntala’s family went inside to gather all the items for the puja. While they were briefly in the house, the earthquake hit and the house collapsed with Shakuntala and her family inside. Both of her grandmothers were killed. Shakuntala was protected by her mother and father guarding her from the rubble. However, her father became paralyzed from the neck down due to the rubble falling on top of him. There was no way for Shakuntala or her family to get out of the house due to wood and stone piles being stacked on top of them. The community came together and helped rescue them from the ruins of their home. A family down the path was not so lucky. They lost four of its members including an infant.
The timing of this earthquake was very unique. The earthquake hit four minutes before the weekly church services were supposed to be let out on Saturday, so Nepal with a large number of causalities in Christian churches all over the country. But if this had been a normal weekday instead of a Saturday, things would have been so much worse. In the two earthquake events, over 3,000 schools were destroyed. There could be over 300,000 children that could have been injured or killed in the collapse of their schools had this aftershock occurred on a weekday.
Besides giving earthquake relief aid to multiple communities in Nepal, we were also able to rescue four Nepalese children who were trafficking victims in India! Along with the police we helped on the risky rescue mission of these 4 children. All four of the victims were under the age of 14. We were also able to track and find one female trafficker that had sold her own sister into trafficking for a mere $400. She even sold her own daughter into sex trafficking but we have not found her yet and are still searching. This woman was arrested and is looking at 15-20 years in prison.
Trafficking is on the rise after the earthquake as people are displaced and are migrating to find shelter, food and jobs. Traffickers prey on people that are in desperation and do not have their basic needs met. This creates a vulnerable situation for many children in Nepal. Our border stations are vigilant and are working hard to find trafficked victims and traffickers crossing the border. This is a tough and challenging battle, but the PRC team is doing their best to combat this issue. Thank you for all of your support.
And thank you for your continued support of the relief efforts. As mentioned before, with the help of RetailROI and other donors we reached remote areas before international organizations like the United Nations. In sum, over 10,000 families were directly helped by the PRC team, and over 145,000 pounds of relief supplies were distributed. PRC and I would like to thank everyone who prayed and contributed to this mission. We all experienced God’s protection during the dangerous distribution of supplies around the country in remote, mountainous areas.
Part 2 of 2