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.
Candles were lit and a minute’s silence observed in honour of every life lost during the earthquakes.
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.
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:
- 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.
- SIRC’s post-earthquake programs that include:
- hands-on training for emergency response teams and healthcare teams in the initial and ongoing care for those with spinal cord injuries,
- neuro-rehabilitation training,
- expansion of the Community-Based Rehab team providing greater post-rehabilitation support to SIRC’s ex-patients,
- 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.
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.