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Nepal earthquake: a personal story

Sean Reynolds, a 26-year-old student from Dublin, was in Nepal when the two earthquakes struck. Rather than taking up an offer to return home, he chose to remain in Nepal and help with the relief efforts. He writes about his three-month experience below. 

Sorley McCaughey

I travelled to Nepal to volunteer with a children’s charity. I arrived on April 20th and first earthquake struck on April 25th.

When the first earthquake struck, I was standing outside. The ground under me suddenly started shaking and I lost my footing and fell over.

At first I thought the heat was getting to me and I was passing out. But then I saw people running from shaking buildings and realised it was an earthquake.

Sorley McCaughey

Driving to Kathmandu hours later, I started to see the true scale of the devastation. People were distraught. They had lost everything and many couldn’t find their loved ones. There were people digging victims out of collapsed buildings with their bare hands.

The Irish Embassy offered to help me return home to Ireland, but I was keen to stay and help in whatever way I could.

I emailed Irish-based charities working in Nepal and was soon put in touch with Christian Aid’s Nepal team. It was fast going from that point. I met with the humanitarian manager in Kathmandu and the next day. I was on my way to Sindhupalchok, one of the worst hit and really remote areas.

I had no relief work experience. I had volunteered in Ireland, but never in a developing country. It was a bit of ‘a baptism of fire’.

It was tough going at first, but I was lucky to be working with really experienced aid workers. The Christian Aid teams were very impressive and made sure to train me up for what I needed to do.

Our teams were tasked with getting basic supplies like food, blankets, hygiene and water sanitation kits and tarpaulins to worst affected. We also had medical staff who were helping the injured.

Over time we moved on to livelihoods, income generation and rebuilding work. People received iron sheets, building toolkits and training so they could build stronger homes. 

Sorley McCaughey

Some families got seeds and fertilisers and planted vegetable gardens. Before I left, their gardens were growing, and hopefully they will harvest enough to feed their families and a surplus that they can sell.

I was deeply inspired by the resilience and strength of the Nepali people and how they worked together to help.

By the time I left three months later, things we still pretty tough. The Nepali people are facing enormous challenges. The rebuilding will take years, but there is reason to be hopeful. I would love to go back one day.

Visit christianaid.ie/Nepal for the latest from our emergency work there.


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