Nepal: epidemic of fear

By May 14, 2015
(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

Nepal (MNN) — Life was sort of starting to return to the bustle of a new normal in parts of Nepal, following the 7.8 magnitude temblor on April 25. People were beginning to recover from the trauma of the first earthquake, roll up their sleeves, and set about cleaning up. On May 12, a 7.3 magnitude quake struck the eastern part of the country.

Lots of buildings were left unstable from the earlier quake, collapsing in the second. The damage you could see wasn’t as bad, but Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response says, “There was a huge impact on the psyche and the emotional state of people there in the country. Our on-ground project leader, Francis Horton, reported that people had just gone back into what little homes that were left, and then this quake! They came back out, and they were back, pitching their tents out on the streets.”

Along with the emotional trauma, Palmer adds, “You’re going to have spiritual trauma, as well. It’s a great time for organizations like ours, and those that are faith-based, to go in and to show the love and the compassion of Christ and touch people where they are hurting.”

Stories are beginning to pop up about survivors rejecting their Hindu beliefs, or those who are taking on atheism. The story behind that: a nearly palpable fear, rejection, anger. Palmer says, “No pun intended: something like that really shakes anybody’s belief. It shakes a lot of things about questions, about their life, about their worldview. ‘Why is this happening to us?'”

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

The initial disaster slid off the headlines quicker than most. A United Nations aid appeal has fallen 85% short. Now, the deteriorating hygiene situation has increased epidemic risks. Palmer says people in Nepal feel forgotten. “The world’s a busy place. A lot of things happen. We’re a society that gets distracted pretty quickly and jumps to something else.”

Neither the reality nor BGR’s commitment have changed. Southern Baptist relief teams were already on the ground in Nepal from the earlier quake, which means they’re well-positioned to investigate the new damage and emergency needs. “Even though it may be off the news, it’s going to be months before we get some of the basic lifeline things established; it’s going to be years before we get communities reestablished.”

This is the depth of the on-ground BGR response team: “Some of them have lost loved ones, and lost homes, and yet they’re out there responding to these isolated communities.” Palmer says the infrastructure was bad before the earthquake; post-quake, they can add landslides, lost bridges, and roads. However, “By the grace of God and the goodness of our supporters, we’ve already been able to mobilize about 60 tons of food, tarpaulins, and shelter needs to some of the isolated areas.”

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

With monsoon season just weeks away, the survivors face heightened risk of cholera and diarrhea, as well as being more vulnerable to the threat of landslides and floods. “We’ve got to get people into some temporary housing. That’s kind of our next phase, along with the food and getting the water systems established: getting into temporary housing.”

It’s not too late to make an impact on Nepal. There are multiple ways to respond: pray, give, or go. Palmer reminds us, “Our responsibility is to show the love of Christ to those who are in need, to clothe those who are naked, to minister to those who are sick, to feed the hungry. It doesn’t get any more biblical than that.”

BGR’s Nepal Earthquake Response [hyperlink: ]]

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