Margie Reporting from Nepal - Days 2-4
'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.
NEPAL | DAYS 2-4
Ok, so the journey continued Day 2.
It gets light here very early - before 5am so I was up literally at the crack of dawn.
I was to fly to Pokhara - only a half hour flight. Pokhara is the major town/city where climbers for Annapurna assemble. While waiting for a taxi, Gabe and I met up with a Dutch couple from RescueNet, the YWAM relief branch, so ended up going to the airport in a much more salubrious van than the general taxis! Gabe was enjoying the conversation with Dutch-speaking compatriots again.
Gabe also advised to get the left hand side of the plane to get good views of the Himalayas - and it was true - as the dust around Kathmandu cleared, they were magnificent. And then down below the very rugged steppes of deep valleys.
I was picked up at picturesque Pokhara by Pandip who owns a place called Phil's Inn. He is a Christian man who hosts quite a few groups coming through. To my great relief said that the older chap who had driven us back from the airport would be the driver to Lampjung! That seemed an answer to prayer - I have much more faith in older men who have been driving for years than younger drivers!
It turned out an interesting and relatively flat drive - most of it along river beds rice growing. There still were some big trucks congesting the narrow roads and considerable backing up to allow passing going on.
Lampjung Hospital is about 3 hours west of Pokhara with a hospital of 65 beds where 3 of our people are now based; the couple are both doctors and have 3 children, and the other female has come to help with teaching and other community activities.
It reminded me a lot of Egbe town and Hospital in Central Southern Nigeria - with houses built right up to the street with deep drains outside them.
After a getting to know each other lunch and conversation in the afternoon, the plan is that I’ll debrief with David and Jenny for the two evenings. They have only been at Lampjung for 4 months, but David, a GP, took over the running of the hospital directly after the earthquake to release other doctors to go as first responders to the badly affected remoter areas.
Jenny had been understandably concerned about the children. They also spent the first few nights in a hospital house which was only one storey, rather than be in their second storey home. Grand parents were urging them to bring their children back to the US, but they did not see the necessity at that stage.
Lampjung was said to be the epicentre of the earthquake, but it had not experienced as much damage as Kathmandu. The Nepali medical staff however, had been able to make several first response trips to areas nearby which had been more affected. It was impressive to see how well prepared they had been for a time like this- an earthquake had been mooted for years, and now they were experiencing it.
Everyone in Nepal at the time ( and even outside) experienced it, and all have their own stories to tell. It was the great leveller - no respecter of persons.
The next morning, I was asked to share at the hospital devotions with the 70 plus staff, and having prepared what I thought would be appropriate on suffering, I found the team wanted a much more practical talk on debriefing so will do that tomorrow morning. They are really wanting to know how to help people with the psychological affects of going through a natural disaster.
I then met with the two young daughters of my host couple; Aida and Naomi, very cute American Korean girls. I helped them to talk about their experiences of the earthquake using Lego and drawing. Their parents rate it as the most frightening experience they have ever had. No doubt it also was for the girls in their short lives, but they appeared to be taking it in their stride.
A theme with the young girls I debriefed was about shoes. Typically it is stressed that everyone wears shoes, because of the risk of worms etc. With the kids being woken 4 or 5 times a night by parents with the first series of aftershocks in the first 3 days, the children had begun to sleep with their shoes on, so they could quickly rush outside.
That afternoon I met with their teacher, Yemi, newly arrived in Nepal from Nagarland, North India, and then speak at the Hospital Christian Fellowship this evening. I now know to have a couple of messages up my sleeve.
Then after Chapel in the morning I’ll return to Pokhara - a different driver this time is slated - but I feel much more confident about the roads now.
The winding high drive will then take place on Friday when I travel up to Tansen hospital about 4 hours in the opposite direction. Thank you for your prayers - I am really experiencing many answers to prayer and seeing God at work and sensing much peace.
Posted: Thursday 21 May 2015