In April 2015, I decided to get scuba certified as my one last hoorah in Cambodia. In a few short weeks, I would be flying back to the U.S. (or so I thought). I received my PADI certification on an island off the coast of Cambodia. While on a ferry back to the mainland, I received a message from my boss, telling me that she was going to be headed to Nepal. Having not had any cell service or internet while on the island, I had no idea why she was going there.
A quick google search told me about the 7.8 earthquake that had shook the country the day before. Fast forward another week or so, and I had a new plane ticket. Instead of heading home, I would flying to Kathmandu to help our team with emergency relief. Within 48 hours, I packed up the last 9 months of my life, finished some paperwork, said a few hurried goodbyes and left the country.
I landed in Nepal on May 3, learning about disaster relief while on the job. I worked with an incredible team of people who gave their all. It was a privilege to be counted among them.
On May 12, I was working at my desk in our office when the building began to shake. A coworker and I made eye contact across the room. When the shaking didn't stop, we wordlessly evacuated the building.
We met up with the rest of our team as the ground continued to shake. I've never quite experienced anything like that — solid ground moving as though there's liquid underneath.
Our team would soon learn that a 7.3 earthquake had just struck Nepal, less than three weeks after the first quake that had devastated the country. At the time, we had team members working in the mountains of the very same district as the epicenter. It was a miracle that all of them were completely unharmed.
A couple weeks later, I traveled to that district and documented some of the damage. Our team distributed non-food items to families in need. Tarps, blankets, cooking kits, soap and water-purifying tablets brought smiles to countless faces. Despite distributing in central locations, many families had to walk for hours due to the unique geography of Nepal.