I was hiking with my Scout group when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. Our aim was to reach the forest of Aananda-kuta Bihar of Swyambhu-nath Stupa, an ancient religious building in Kathmandu valley. As we reached the top of the hill, there was a horrible sound. Huge monkeys started running to higher ground, gathering in an open space.
I could see fear in everyone’s eyes. Our Scout Master stayed calm and found a safe space for us to wait. Following the first aftershock, we decided to make our way back down – what I saw was shocking. So many buildings had collapsed. Our beautiful historical places were reduced to rubble.
One of the worst things for me was the constant aftershocks. Even today, I still can’t forget them. Every time an aftershock hit, the ground shifted from where it had just been. Everything would start to shake and sway as if it were intoxicated. Buildings crumbled and fell, while bricks and dust rained down from above. It was impossible to stand still. I thought I’d understood what fear was, but the aftershocks made me realise I hadn’t come close to comprehending true fear.
We tried our best to help the injured as we made our way down, taking them to the hospital where possible. Our motto is ‘Be Prepared’ and our Scout Master and Senior Scouts were integral in the immediate aftermath.
I remember seeing people covered in debris, I saw an injured child who had fallen from a ladder near a temple, his face badly damaged. It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
There had been a huge loss of life and severe damage to vital infrastructure and buildings. I had never been in such a situation and I was scared, but with the support of my Scouts, I wanted to leave my fear behind and support the others. In some ways, helping the survivors stopped me from becoming overwhelmed by the tragedy.
In the following days, I was involved in cleaning many of the devastated buildings, such as Basantapur Durbar Square and Swoyambhu stupa. I also volunteered in relief areas, such as Tudhikhel, as well as schools, supporting survivors.
My family and I were affected by the earthquake. It destroyed many of my belongings and we had to move to Tudhikhel as well, while our house was rebuilt. I still remember living in the camp, it wasn’t easy and life was miserable for a while after.
We lost so much in the earthquake, our homes, historical monuments and infrastructure. Many people are still homeless and life is still hard at times. But the Nepal Scouts, together with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, are committed to supporting the rebuild of its country.
Without my Scout training, I wouldn’t have been able to support the rebuilding of my country. It’s taught me about leadership, adventure, independence and how to be prepared. The Scouts taught me things school didn’t and it’s helped me prepare for any obstacles no matter how big or small, including earthquakes.