The days following the deadly Nepal earthquake have been intense and exhaustive for humanitarian Bishnu Adhikari.
“It’s a difficult situation but I am not discouraged,” Adhikari said late Thursday night via video chat from his home in Kathmandu. “I know life has ups and downs. Sometimes we go through these situations for our personal learning. I am grateful I am here and will do whatever I can in my capacity. There are so many things to be grateful for.”
Adhikari said he and his family, along with an estimated 70 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were in a chapel last Saturday when the walls began shaking. When the 7.8-magnitude earthquake was over, the people left the chapel and retreated to a fairly safe area where nothing would fall on them. There they began singing hymns. The music calmed many troubled hearts, Adhikari said.
“Wow, what a comforting spirit,” Adhikari said. “My mind started thinking about a relief plan and how we could help others.”
With homes gone or damaged, many, including Adhikari’s family, slept outside in somewhat cold temperatures for a few days. Fortunately, their home didn’t sustain major damage, and the Adhikaris were able to move back in and use their food storage and other supplies.
Most of those first days were spent locating people and coordinating with authorities on how to help others get shelter, water and food. Only one telephone system functioned for the first two days, and it wasn’t accessible to many of the remote villages, so it was difficult to communicate with people, Adhikari said.
“It’s been a good effort from everybody to help each other,” said Adhikari, who said there are about 155 Mormons in Nepal. Adhikari said he will continue to assist in coordinating relief efforts with the Red Cross, the LDS Church, the government in Nepal and Choice Humanitarian, a Utah-based nonprofit organization where he is the in-country director. He will also participate in the rebuilding process.
While the death and destruction have been tragic, Adhikari hopes for safer structures, better long-term planning by the government and greater unity among the ethnic communities of Nepal. He hopes people will turn their hearts to the Heavenly Father in this time of need. Most of all, he hopes to help as many people as he can.
“It’s a daunting task,” he said. “There are many reasons to complain and blame others, but I am not in that game. I don’t want to waste my time. I believe in … making a difference for as many individuals as possible. That is what I’m trying to do.”