Margie Reporting from Nepal - Day One

'8 Days and 7 Seven Nights'

Critical Incident Debriefing Medical Workers

Post Nepal Earthquake

Soon after the devastating 7.8 earthquake on May 25th, Titoki counsellor, Margie Upson was called to Nepal to carry out criticial incident debriefing with medical workers there. She was there for 8 days of significant work and flew out just one hour before the second major earthquake hit.  In this series of blog posts Margie has written the story of her time there and the encounters she had.  

Click on the links to read Margie's stories for DAY 1,  DAYS 2-4DAYS 5-8.



 Its 5.30 in the morning in Kathmandu and very light so will take this opportunity to write.

Of the 2 fellow Kiwis I met on the journey, the first was a young woman I sat next to whose name was Dolma Tensing Sherpa from the Sherpa family! That was a well-known name. 

Dolma had just got NZ residency, but was understandably concerned about her family in Nepal. So I practised the debriefing with her on the last long plane trip via Dhaka!

Flying into Pokhara

At the airport here, I had a problem with the immigration guy.  Twenty or more people had gone through  other lines and he was still holding up my passport.  While wondering if he was just being obtuse he showed me on the computer that the date of expiry for my passport for my online visa application had already expired - January 2015 - while in the actual passport it was January 2018! 

I hurriedly managed to convince him that my husband had filled out the online application and that sometimes he mixed numbers up.  

Drawing on techniques learned in Nigeria on " what to do now then ?"  and after him quizzing me that my husband was good and kind and honest (if a little dyslexic), we had a laugh about spouses in general and he let me through!

However, there turned out to be no rush because there was another long delay as the baggage claim area was  wall to wall emergency relief people waiting for their cargo of supplies of every different type imaginable to go through the conveyor belts first!  

Because of the urgent need for food, shelter and blankets, most agencies were sending their supplies as unaccompanied baggage rather than shipping it.

Gabe Jens, the agency director there, was waiting for me.  Initially, it all seems quite familiar - not unlike Nigeria with the taxis, the busy streets, people hawking and markets around the road.  

The photos in this post are captured by Gabe after the earthquake and the initial response.  Most people, Nepail and foreigners alike slept outside or in a communal area that felt safer than being in their own buildings.

Kathmandu has the pall of dust over it  - whether that was typical for the season, or a result of the earthquake  I was not sure.  It was like Christchurch after their earthquake. Many people were wearing masks.  

There was not so much damage seen on the route we took although people were tenting or under tarpaulins in any open spaces such as the golf course.

Anyway due to the fiasco of me leaving my i-phone on the Whakatane Airport counter our first stop was to buy a cheap phone - both Roger and Gabe's good idea that will remain in SIM office here.  It turned out just as well later in the day!

After quickly printing out the resources I needed, and having a welcome shower, I went around to a Korean family's house, passing more extensive damage to apartments and buildings on the way.  

The earthquake had happened just before midday on Saturday, April 25, and because Saturday is Nepalis church day, many Christians had been in church. My hosts daughter Joy, aged 9, had been afraid to return to the church building they used the following Saturday because of the reminders it held.  She was able to draw her experience with me.  

Her mother, Soo, had wisely already employed the green-orange-red system of placing a green sticker for green on places where she felt safe, and a red sticker for what did not feel safe.  Under those conditions, Joy had gone to the church and on a second look, given it a green sticker herself!

Soo put me in a taxi for the trip back to Gabe and Biz's home, but there are two places with a similar name so I found myself at 8 pm in a dark street with no familiar landmark in sight - directions not being my strong suite anyway.  

Serendipitiously, together with the kind Nepali driver we managed to tap out the numbers by the thin light of his torch to Gabe on the new phone!  And then we were redirected and returned "home".

I feel very upheld by all your prayers!  My cold has almost completely dried up!  I feeling on top of it, just a little concerned about the 3 hour road trip to the Lampjung Hospital tomorrow, although it is deemed to be " not bad".  

Not quite sure what that means....

Much love,


Posted: Thursday 21 May 2015