My adventure in Nepal and the earthquake that rocked the world
By Brittany Reinbolt
Nepal jumped onto news screens across the world a couple of weeks ago when a devastating earthquake rocked the small Asian country. Although Nepal is making headlines now, it has been on my radar for quite some time. Nearly three years ago my younger sister packed her bags and moved to Nepal. She said goodbye to the American Dream in hopes of bringing the Nepali people something more to dream about.
Lets rewind to earlier this year. I was competing on the North American Cup bobsled tour. I was beginning to miss my little sister, and beginning to feel like I needed a little change of pace. So, as soon as the season ended I hopped on a plane and headed to visit my sister in Nepal. I was so pumped to spend the month of April on a big adventure. I just had no idea exactly how big that adventure would turn out to be.
I instantly fell in love with Nepal. Everything was so new, different, and fascinating! However, it didn’t take long for me to discover the despair that the country was in (even before the earthquake). I had tea with families who walked long distances to collect the very water that I was drinking. I watched laborers (including women and young children), unjustly work all day for less than a couple dollars pay. I visited villages without any teenage girls because they had all been sold into the human trafficking industry. Yet somehow, regardless of the hardships, the people of Nepal still managed to make their country feel like a magical place.
Then everything changed.
I was in church with my sister when it happened. We were sitting on the floor of a small garage-like building with about 50 other Nepali people and I didn’t understand anything that was being sung or said during the church service. My sister and I were packed in the front of the room and I was trying my best to act like I was following along so that I wouldn’t be a distraction to everyone else behind me.
Then everyone started getting anxious and saying something, I simply thought that the sermon was finished and everyone was praying (in Nepali churches everyone prays out loud at the same time). Suddenly my sister looked at me with fear in her eyes and translated, “Earthquake!” The small earth rumbles that everyone had heard approaching quickly turned into one of the most violent experiences of my life. It was as if the entire world was riding inside the back of a bobsled. In an instant, I grabbed my sister by the arm and began to sprint through the people toward the exit of the building. When we got to the back of the building the sliding garage-like door was falling shut and a few people were trying to crawl under it, kind of like something Indiana Jones would do. But, in perfect unison, my sister and I grabbed the door and pulled it up over our heads.
Then, just when I thought I had rescued my sister to safety, I saw her bolt back inside of the building. Most of the people were frozen with fear, and not moving. Simply sitting and screaming praises to Jesus! But my sister started yelling for all of them to get out of the building and started grabbing very elderly ladies and leading them outside. So there we were, I was holding up a falling sliding door as my sister herded people outside underneath it, and all I could hear were people screaming “hallelujah Jesus” amongst the loud devastation happening all around us. Those 30 seconds felt like an eternity.
Praise God, no one in the church was injured. In fact, it’s an absolute miracle that the building was not even damaged. When the earth finally stopped shaking there was a wave of dust filling the air. Many buildings had collapsed and landslides had occurred. We would later find out that we were located only about 20 miles from the epicenter of the 7.8 magnitude quake that shifted the entire Kathmandu Valley three meters south.
I’m not telling you that story to make my sister and me sound like heroes who rescued people from a building – we were far from that. The building and people were fine, and would’ve been fine without us, all because God was a hero.
We soon found ourselves as earthquake refugees - living in fields and constantly being reminded of our experience by nearly 100 aftershocks. Resources were thin before the earthquake, and they became even scarcer after the quake. Unfortunately, my sister and her co-worker were not in Nepal as natural disaster relief workers (they were on human trafficking research visas). They didn’t have stockpiles of rice and tents. They can no longer live in their own house. They became victims of this earthquake just like everyone else.
We were beginning to lose hope, not for ourselves, but for friends in remote villages desperate to receive relief aid. After a couple of days in the fields of the Nuwakot District, we migrated to a friend’s yard in the capitol city of Kathmandu. It was there that we began to find a little hope. We met with several relief organizations and shared in their desire to help Nepal.
After six days living in post-earthquake Nepal, I am now back in America - gearing up for my off-season training program with an entirely new perspective on life. My sister is still in Nepal - working with a relief organization to get help to her friends.
If you would like to make a financial donation to the people of Nepal, here are a few reputable organizations that are fighting the good fight and committed to long-term development in Nepal:
Samaritans Purse: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/donation-items/nepal-earthquake-response/
Global Youth Ministry Network: http://global-youth.com/main/giving-special-projects/
Mountain Child: http://www.mountainchild.org/wp/donate/
A look at my adventure before and after the earthquake:
Athlete blog entries are the sole opinion of each individual author and may not be representative of USABS or its athletes.