James and I are among the lucky ones ...
I still feel the eerie movement in my body, not sure if it is phantom or real.
We were thrilled to be in the old part of Kathmandu, situated near ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples, spice sellers, art dealers, one exotic shop after the other snaking through the winding maze of streets.
We were located on the fifth floor of Ganesh Himal, a Lonely Planet recommended hotel, located in the crowded dusty and exotic Thamel region of Kathmandu when it struck. In a whirlwind, downstairs, outdoors, we were ushered into an open lot.
We had been resting in bed nursing colds and looking forward to visiting Durbar Square, walking among ancient temples and taking in the iconic magic of the city.
Durbar Square... Now devastated. Temples gone. Homes rubble.
Along with other tourists and Nepalis, we waited in an open lot, knowing there was more to come.
We survey the area for an exit. There's a car to dive under.
Before each new tremor the crows suddenly circle, the crowd becomes one agitated voice.
We sleep in the open that night along with everyone else in Nepal. Dawn offers me socks. Kate covers me with a part of her sleeping bag. Sitting up we sleep, looking forward to the morning and a strategy for finding a safer location. Resources are waning and we know more quakes will come.
James and I came to Nepal to check out Hands in Outreach. HIO is a non-profit educational organization with a long history in Nepal. They sponsor over forty girls, K thru level twelve, who otherwise would never have an education.
We came here wanting to meet the student we have chosen to sponsor, get to know the directors, and see the operation first hand. Boy. Have we ever.
Once the hotel phones are working again we call HIO director Ram Adhikari for help. He tells us driving in the old part of town is not an option. He arranges for a driver to meet us at the edge of the old city and bring us to his town of Dhulikhel.
We ask him to find a vehicle big enough to accommodate our new friends from Australia who live in Dhulikhel.
Seven of us including a grandmother and two little kids hike our way out of Thamel and miraculously meet the driver. He safely ushers us to Dhulikhel only to discover that Ram and our new Aussie buds Kate and Dave live on the same road. Grace and synchronicity in the midst of chaos and destruction.
That we are blessed to be here is an understatement.
This week we watch Ram work tirelessly to serve his students families. Daily he has entered devastated neighborhoods of Kathmandu to check on them. None are unaffected. Some are destitute. He is an inspiration, completely committed to service. He is the thread that is holding this fragile community together.
We search our hearts to find ways to repay the kindness and generosity of the people who have fed and sheltered us. We search also for ways to pay it forward. If you're able to be a part of this effort we ask that your donations find their way to the people. They are homeless, in many cases without food, and with only tainted water available.