I found out I was on one of the medical teams deploying to Nepal at 0130 the day before I was to leave, and I was so excited I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. I have been waiting for an opportunity to get to use both my military training and my medical training in a disaster situation for a while now. I didn’t have much time to prepare and did not quite know what we would be facing, but part of that unknown was exciting.
Once we arrived in Kathmandu, we were told our mission was going to be trekking out to some of the outlying villages that hadn’t yet received any medical care since the earthquake. As we drove the long, 3+ hour journey over a road barely passible at points due to the quake, we had an opportunity to see how the country side was affected. It was a stark contrast of destruction against the amazing beauty of the land. We were eager to provide medical care and quickly set up a clinic and started seeing many of the villagers.
I was amazed at how far people had walked – sometimes more than 3 hours over mountains – to get to us. I soon realized after hearing their stories about how their lives had been affected by the quake that the Nepalese people are very sturdy and resilient people. They have a general “acceptance” of the course of nature, and while they were sad to have lost loved ones and experience such a trauma, they were also just grateful for what they still had.
We weren’t able to bring tons of medical supplies with us, but we did the best we could to treat general illness and minor trauma. We took time to just listen to what these people had to say, to learn about their experience and hardships. Humans reaching out to humans is a beautiful and humbling experience. I feel they have helped me to see the importance of stillness and acceptance in life just as much as I helped them to patch up a few wounds and infections.
While part of me feels like my help was just a drop in the ocean of need, I also sense we are passing hope from one person to another, and it is quite powerful. We are all brothers and sisters and I feel honored to get to learn, observe, and participate in the Nepalese culture for a short time. What an honor to get to pass on love and hope through bandages, antibiotics, and gentle bow of the head as we say “Namaste” (the god in me bows to the god in you) to each other.