Shefalika Gautam: “I needed to help those in need, to give what I could and not be selfish”

KU Students on a visit to village School

KU Students on a visit to Shree Mahankal Secondary School

Nothing lasts forever. Buildings as tall as the sky, and monuments as old as history can collapse in a snap. Life isn’t certain. One moment everything seems so right, and in the next, thousands of people have lost their lives or the lives of their families.

April 25th, 2015 was a pretty normal Saturday morning until the earthquake hit. The 2 seconds it took me to get from my bed to the table felt like minutes, and the 47 seconds of the earth’s terrifying dance performance felt like hours to me and my younger brother as we hid under the table. Looking at my father hiding out under a mattress did not seem funny until later when we were out of the house which could have collapsed with us in it.

Fear took over my mind when death came near, and I could taste the tension like a cloud of smoke. The feeling that I might not see the next sunrise was something I couldn’t ignore.

When everything goes wrong, there’s one thing everybody does, and that is to wish for things to be normal again, whether or not he or she believes in a wish-granting supernatural power. I did that for 2 whole days, until I realized that I had to be my own genie. I needed to help those in need, to give what I could and not be selfish. I got up and started volunteering through the Nepal Red Cross Society (Kathmandu and Bhaktapur District Chapters).

Data collection assessment, aqua-tab distribution, temporary latrine building, and hygiene promotion were some of the tasks I performed. The devil’s workshop was no longer in operation, and bringing smiles to sad, weary faces was highly satisfying. Learning to take responsibility was a huge change the earthquake brought about in my life.

It also made me aware of the fact that life is precious. An 80-year-old woman lost her son, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren, but she’s not crying anymore. A 16-year-old boy lost his father, mother and twin brother. His house collapsed leaving him injured, but he has not given up on life. I realized the joy of living and how lucky I am to have come out safe and sound. I have understood perfectly that my purpose in life is yet to be served. I survived, and now I live!  I’ve come to see that positivity and patience are one’s strengths, and that life is too precious to waste on worthless things.  This understanding will make for a happier life and a merrier tomorrow.

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