In April 2015, a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook the country of Nepal, killing over 8,000 and injuring over 21,000. Hundreds of thousands lost their homes.
Our counselors John Schuetze and Anita Smith arrived in Nepal in February to provide trauma and grief counseling to men, women, and children affected by the earthquake and its aftermath. Their work there was sponsored by WELS World Missions, WELS Christian Aid and Relief, and WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions.
This multi-part blog from our counselor Anita Smith will feature a snapshot of their work there.
How good it is to be here. We have not had much time to adjust to the time difference or the area. We will start today with two sessions on grief and loss this afternoon. It has been decided to work with everyone together instead of separating the men and women. What is my role? I will conduct all activities: relaxation, calming, telling their story, health and family issues, and more fun exercises! Day one was only two sessions: the first session gave an overview of grief, loss, and trauma. The second session involved relaxation techniques. The people participated in stretching exercises and other relaxation strategies. We were just starting to get to know each other.
We are living on the fourth floor of the center. The third floor is where we hold the workshops. All the women are sleeping there during the night. The first floor is two classrooms—one is for sewing classes and one is for computer classes. All the men are sleeping in these rooms for the nights. In total, we have 140-150 people in that one building. The Americans always eat separately so we don’t get sick, so one meal is prepared for 4 people and another for 130 people. That’s a lot of rice and dal (lentils). And lots of dishes to wash!
Some of these people walked for a day to catch a bus to ride overnight to get here. Overall, they traveled between 10-25 hours to get here! Every night all in the house gather together. It was wonderful to spend time again with these people. There is joy here despite all the losses they have suffered!