One Year Later …… a minute’s silence

April 25th brought us the one-year anniversary of the first of two earthquakes that devastated Nepal.  Memories and stories of those dreadful days, weeks and months thereafter have been in the media all week.

SIRC is in a special position, having cared for many of the survivors of collapsed buildings and landslides as a result of the earthquakes.  Survivors whose lives were changed forever in one split second.  Survivors (mostly in the 30-40 years old age range) who are now learning to live with a spinal cord injury.

Last Monday, SIRC gathered together the patients, their carers and families and the staff to mark this fateful date that changed Nepal forever.

Lighting the candles. Photo credit SIRC

Lighting the candles. Photo credit SIRC

Candles were lit and a minute’s silence observed in honour of every life lost during the earthquakes.

A moment of silence. Photo credit SIRC

A moment of silence. Photo credit SIRC

Storytelling is a deep-seated part of the Nepali culture, no good event would be without a story or two.

Kesh’s story is particularly poignant in that he sustained his spinal cord injury while doing humanitarian work in the Gorkha region last June.  He’s a young man with a vibrancy for life that puts me to shame.  He has taken this new reality in his stride and has embarked on a new career that, not surprisingly still focuses on helping others.  Read Kesh’s story here.

Kesh Bahadur Gurung. Photo credit SIRC

Kesh Bahadur Gurung. Photo credit SIRC

I still marvel at how much the good people at SIRC stepped up to the plate when called upon by their country to provide help to those in desperate need.  Chanda Maya Rana, SIRC’s Rehab-In-Charge reminded the staff – most of whom were hired in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes – how far they had come  in the past year:

  1. SIRC’s immediate response to the earthquakes and how SIRC transitioned from  a 51-bed rehab centre to a whopping 170-bed centre within a matter of weeks, with the help of in-kind and financial donations from their fellow compatriots as well as the global community.
  2. SIRC’s post-earthquake programs that include:
    1. hands-on training for emergency response teams and healthcare teams in the initial and ongoing care for those with spinal cord injuries,
    2. neuro-rehabilitation training,
    3. expansion of the Community-Based Rehab team providing greater post-rehabilitation support to SIRC’s ex-patients,
    4. last but not the least, distribution of vocational packages to support the ex-patient’s ability to generate income for his/her family.

Most definitely, a year SIRC can be proud of!

After a few emotional words from Esha Thapa, SIRC’s Executive Director, tea and biscuits were served.

Photo credit SIRC.

Photo credit SIRC.

Soon after, the patients returned to what is their new normal: rehabilitation and therapy sessions that will help them eventually integrate back into society and live their lives, albeit a little differently than they would have imagined one year ago.


About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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2 Responses to One Year Later …… a minute’s silence

  1. Mick Canning says:

    Excellent work by SIRC. Sometimes it feels as though it is only the volunteers and the NGOs that are really addressing the post-earthquake problems.

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