'I Lived Through Nepal's Deadliest Nightmare, In Broad Daylight'

21/04/2016 6:41 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

It will soon be a year since deadly earthquakes shattered the usually tranquil and spiritual land of Nepal. It not only took thousands of lives, but reduced the architectural and cultural heritage of the country to rubble. Only the people who lived this dreadful incident know how traumatic it was. Here is one such chilling story of a lady from Nepal who experienced the earth's rage and survived to tell the tale.


My name is Uma. I work as the country coordinator for a volunteer organization, Volunteering Solutions. It was a normal day. I was on the first-floor balcony of my home waiting for the taxi I had booked to drop one of our volunteers to the airport. That's when it all started. I remember the earth shaking like never before; Nepal was experiencing its worst ever nightmare in broad daylight.


Tents set up by volunteers for local people who were afraid to move back into their own houses.

My first reaction was to rush inside and inform everyone that there was an earthquake happening-- eight children from the orphanage were at home, along with a helper and some volunteers. What followed was nothing like I had ever encountered in my 55 years of life. As soon as the first shake stopped I went down and found a safe spot outside for the orphanage children, gathered volunteers from a nearby volunteer home and brought them all under a tin shade near the house.


Once a simple and happy locality, turned into a heap of rubble in no time.

For the next 36 hours, the earth kept shaking every few minutes. There were sounds of metal moving under the surface, and that continued throughout the day; for many days. During the aftershocks, the sound would come first followed by the tremors. Later, there were blasting sounds from under the floor, sometimes like thunder.

[T]here were blasting sounds from under the floor, sometimes like thunder.

After the first big earthquake, we (myself, the eight children and all the volunteers) stayed in a tin shed outside the house for many nights. The volunteers were very scared to continue their program, so I suggested that they should contact their embassies and return home if they wished to; the children, however, showed a lot of courage and strength. It started raining on the third day, so I had to move the children to a safer newly constructed volunteer house. All of us stayed in the same room, on the ground floor, and kept the door open all night.


Donya and Kerry, two brave volunteers from UK providing utilities to local people.

After the second big shake we shifted to a tent outside the house, just as most of our neighbours did. While many volunteers were returning to their countries, others were arriving to do relief work during the crisis. Two volunteers from the UK, Donya Broadhead and Kerry Parkes, who were working for our program in Nepal chose to stay back, and two others came specially for earthquake relief. They gave us some tents which we could use for shelter for the children. Even our director from Volunteering Solutions took the immediate available flight to Nepal and joined us. He made sure to provide all possible help for the children and the volunteers, including food, blankets, money, etc. He visited one of the only operating hospitals to see what help could be provided for the patients. Fortunately, there was not so much damage inside Kathmandu city.


Mr. Saurabh Sabharwal at a local hospital in Kathmandu.

Although, it's been a year now and things are getting back to normal, this incident will haunt every Nepali for as long as they live. Small earthquakes have become a part of our lives now. Even today we experience earthquakes with a big thunder-like or blast-like sound. Everyone rushes out of their buildings, and then it's back to normal activity. Sometimes it's difficult to tell if it's the knees shaking or if it is an earthquake.

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