Mon, 12 Apr, 2021

Volunteering Around Bhaktapur Bajar

By Ruby Shrestha

Photo: Heading off for work in the Bhaktapur Bajar area Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha

After everything at home was set back to near-to-normal state, I, along with my cousin, decided to walk out of the house to serve prayfornepalour fellow Nepali brothers and sisters who were yearning for help. After some hours of confusion as to how we should head off or where we should contact or refer for volunteering, luckily, we landed onto a solution. One of my cousin’s friends had been volunteering, and after some inquiry as to how they had been contributing, we decided to join him and his troop.

30th April was the day we started our journey of helping our fellow citizens. We were told to be present in front of the A.V.M school, situated in Manbhawan, Lalitpur at around 9 am, and we did as we were told.

A house in front of the school was full of young volunteers eager to submit themselves to helping the earthquake victims in every way possible. There were about 20 to 25 volunteers that day. There, we met Chewan Rai, Founding President of Young Thinker’s Society. He, along with some of his friends, had been organizing volunteering campaigns every day, starting from 27th April. They utilized 26th April collecting funds and preparing for the upcoming campaign. They’ve been collecting funds via fundly.com. Visit here to contribute! Besides funds, they’re also receiving goods via cargo. Rai says, “We have been receiving goods in the name of Young Thinker’s Society. However, the volunteering campaign isn’t associated with the organization as such. We, some friends, started the campaign out of our own interest and we hope to move forward, strongly and consistently, with it.”

[caption id="attachment_6476" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Materials to be distributed to people in need Photo Courtesy: Chewan Rai Materials to be distributed to people in need
Photo Courtesy: Chewan Rai[/caption]

Every day, the troop heads off to a new destination to help people in need and 30th April was a day dedicated to help the people of Bhaktapur Bajar (in and around the Bhaktapur Durbar Square area).

[caption id="attachment_6470" align="aligncenter" width="741"]Bhaktapur Bajar area Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha Bhaktapur Bajar area
Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6471" align="aligncenter" width="732"]Bhaktapur Bajar area Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha Bhaktapur Bajar area
Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha[/caption]

We started the campaign for the day at around 1 pm. The volunteers were divided into three groups and each group headed to a different direction. Each group had a doctor and a nurse with them.

[caption id="attachment_6475" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Volunteers off for work Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha Volunteers off for work
Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha[/caption]

When we started reaching out to people living in tents, we figured out that the some of the families there had their own farms, where they had some vegetables (mostly potato) grown. Also, volunteers from organizations such as Red Cross had already distributed food materials (noodles and biscuits) the day before. Hence, such families rarely had problem of food materials. We then started looking for families that actually had scarcity of food, and distributed the biscuits we had taken along among them. One of the women in the tent said, “Only biscuits do not help fill our stomach.” When I heard that sentence, I felt really sad and I wished that we had taken some heavy food materials such as rice, beans, and liquid rich in protein with us.

When asked if they had any water problems, they said that they are provided with free water service every day.

Moreover, we went from tent to tent asking if the people living there had any health related problems, and in the case they had any health problem, they were taken to the medical camp that our group had set up.

[caption id="attachment_6474" align="aligncenter" width="902"]Helping senior citizens is the best feeling Photo Courtesy: Chewan Rai Helping senior citizens is the best feeling
Photo Courtesy: Chewan Rai[/caption]

Allergy, fever, back-ache, body-ache, cold, weakness resulting in sudden fainting, and eye itches were the health problems that a majority of people there were suffering from. Our group distributed some cetamols among the families living in the tents, thinking that they might use them if in case they require.

[caption id="attachment_6473" align="aligncenter" width="779"]Doctor busy diagnosing a patient Photo Courtesy: Chewan Rai Doctor busy diagnosing a patient
Photo Courtesy: Chewan Rai[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6472" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Doctor at work Doctor at work
Photo Courtesy: Chewan Rai[/caption]

Along with inquiring about the health problems, we also inquired whether the families had been provided with sufficient disposable sanitary masks, and distributed masks to the families who did not have any left. Trying to console a crying senior citizen and teaching her how to wear the sanitary mask was a soulful feeling.

The goods we had taken with us weren’t all enough. We ran out of sanitary pads and masks. Also, some required goods weren’t available. We wished we had taken some gloves for distribution since the locals there, who were busy clearing the rubbles, asked us for some, and it was a sad feeling to tell them that we did not have any. We did not also have medicines for eye problems.

While touring from tent to tent, investing about problems, my sight caught hold of a lady, who wasn’t conversing with anyone around. She was just gazing on the floor. I tried to ask her what was wrong, but she did not respond, instead started crying. I asked a woman, who was standing in front of her, about what was wrong. She said to me, “Her family is fine and her house, though it has some cracks, isn’t entirely demolished. We do not know what has happened to her. She has not eaten enough since the earthquake and she does not share what is wrong. She just starts crying.” Hence it was evident that she was traumatized by the earthquake. When I told the doctor to diagnose what was wrong, he tried; however, the lady started crying again. She started trembling. The doctor nodded to me and said, “There is nothing we can do.” That scene was the most saddening scene of the day to me. I really think that along with the doctors who look into other health problems, there needs to be campaigns organized by psychiatrists where such traumatized people are taken care of and consoled.

While I was helping people in Bhaktapur Bajar area, I figured out that some senior citizens out there barely understood and spoke Nepali language. Their language of communication was their native Newari language. Since we did not have Newari doctors, I and some other volunteers became the translators. Though I am not a perfect Newari speaker, I could somehow make things clear between the doctor and the patients. There I realized how important it was to learn to speak different languages.

Helping people, in every possible way, was a satisfying feeling indeed. The work for the day ended at around 5 pm. I was tired, but certainly contented.

So people, let us not only use our hands for prayers, let us all work together and help people in need.