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2017 Oct • Reflections after the Gorkha Earthquake

“Guidance Usually Comes from the Community”

by Subhash 

The Gorkha Earthquake shook not only the houses but also the mountains of Nepal in April, 2015. It killed and injured thousands, and made too many homeless, but it also opened up a window for me to learn and practice a new idea of discernment.

Soon after the earthquake, Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific was showered by its well-wishers’ kindness and generous; heartfelt thanks to those all whose resource sharing was well beyond our (at least my) expectation or imagination!

The first few days after a natural disaster is a time of confusion, and also a time of grounding and navigating. Discernment is highly valuable when someone is physically safe and thinking, ‘What can I do, what should I do, for others who are badly affected?” Guidance and clarity become such a necessity before offering relief. I understood this by experiencing it first hand and reflecting on it later.

While working for land and agrarian rights we had developed a trustworthy relationship with Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC, A few days after the earthquake, Ms. Kalpana Karki from CSRC and I visited Sindhupalchowk District in one of the hardest hit areas. We met with members of the Village Land Rights Forum (VLRF) in Ramche Village. We sat in a circle and listened to community members speak about what and how the earthquake happened, how they felt then and feel now, what they need at this time, what helps them move forward, and what they suggest others can do to help them. One woman articulated the feelings of many, “We received food and some other relief once already, so we are fine right now. As poor people, we should not be greedy and run only after relief packages every day like others on the roadsides down there across the highway. At this moment, we must send the relief to others who have not received relief even once. And, we should resume our own normal life as soon as possible.”

This community offered supreme guidance for me. I had become an accidental relief worker in response to the need, searching for clarity on what to do next! I shared my reflections on our visit with others locally and through Nadine Hoover with others abroad, which formed discernment teams. As Kalpana and I were looking for guidance on how to move forward, we learned to discern: to stop, open to and feel the regenerative, transforming power of life, listen inwardly to our best sense of what’s right, here in this moment, then share that with others locally and globally, and listen to and take seriously their questions, insights and feedback, and finally to respond genuinely and honestly to the best of our ability.

As I reflect on that experience, I notice: