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.
Today is a full day of workshops. It is unsafe for us to walk through the town. We can only walk around the yard of the center. With all the people here, this area is not that spacious. Even during our free time, the women all want to tell their story to me. I try to listen appropriately, but I do not understand the language, and they do not speak English. There are four different dialects from the Nepali language represented here at these workshops. A smile, a head nod, and eye contact go a long way toward understanding.
Many of the women are curious about my white skin. They want to touch me to see if it feels different. Touch can be so important to begin to feel comfortable with someone new and make a connection with others.
I won some points with the women today when I covered my head with my scarf during one portion of the day. They can see I am really trying to get to know them. From the beginning, I was sure that my activities would transcend the culture. Not everyone was sure of this. Today everyone began to feel comfortable with the stretches, essential oils, and lotion to help relax. This group loved to giggle and laugh! Healing begins when humor is present. They enjoyed making the emotion faces to help identify all the possible emotions. They liked drawing and then sharing with others a picture of their trauma. They loved to sing, and they did so joyfully. They were beginning to feel safe and relaxed and experience comfort from one another. There was a lot of sorrow and pain shared today, but also hope!