Something you need to know about me: I am not a crier. I have a strict rule about crying in front of people and that is: don’t do it. I will do everything in my power to keep those threatening tears inside until I can find somewhere private and soundproof. If I feel the tears about to breach the rim of my eyes; I will actually tip my head back and shake the salty water back inside my head. I know… it’s extreme.
The day of the earthquake was no different; the rule was there and must be obeyed. I didn’t cry when the Nepali girl latched herself to me sobbing. Nor when I saw the house collapse. No tears came when I walked out into the town and saw so many cracks in all of the buildings, concrete and the roads. When the edge of town looked like it was about fall off the mountain and go crashing into the dried up riverbed. With every tremor and aftershock, over the next five hours, when all the locals would scream and go into a full-blown panic, I stuck to my rule. I held the tears at bay when I looked into the villagers’ eyes and all I could see was fear, pain and uncertainty and I could offer them no relief from their distress. And I didn’t cry when our van came, which had been used to transport the injured to the nearest hospital – an hour away, and the driver was cleaning off the blood from the floors, seats and walls.
Yes, I had made it through the day! No tears!
I got into the van and sat in the back row by the window, ready to go home and was feeling pretty proud of myself. As we started driving, the destruction of the earthquake becomes more and more evident. House after house are now piles of rubble. The villagers are walking around aimlessly; absolutely defeated. All their life possessions, destroyed. It will take years for them to earn enough money to get their houses to the same state. But what are they supposed to do in the meantime? Monsoon season is only two months away!
So yes, the destruction hits like a tonne of bricks and I cry. I cry until it turns into sobbing. I sob because I wish I could reverse time. Because I want to stop at every pile of ruins and just hug the owners. I sob because it’s always the poorest of the poor who are so hugely affected by these disasters. Because the poor are constantly and consistently knocked down. It seems sometimes that they never even have a chance. I sob because I feel so small and insignificant; how on earth am I supposed to help? I sob because all I want to do is go back my Nepali home and sleep but then I remember these villagers will be sleeping outside tonight and another huge wave of guilt washes over me. And so, I continue to sob for the two hour journey home.
I arrive home, look at my make up stained hands from wiping my eyes and I gave myself a pep talk: “Get over yourself girl, nothing happened to you and your tears aren’t helping anyone. Get up and do something. Plus, you broke the rule!” So I wiped the last tear drops away, got up and made an commitment to myself that I can and will make a difference through raising awareness, funds and offering my time and skills.
If you would like to help these wonderful people of Nepal please visit my project and donate. You can find it here
Tahlia Van De Beld is currently in Nepal working with Metamorphic