by Bob Sparrow
Yes, I had heard from the travel agent that both Dom and Kiran were OK after the initial earthquake, but my three emails to Dom continued to go unanswered. All kinds of scenarios were running through my head as I wondered if the travel agency in New York really knew what was going on in Nepal and specifically with Dom and Kiran? I certainly wanted to believe they were OK, but wanted confirmation from Dom. I realized that responding to my emails had to be fairly low on Dom’s priority list at a time like this, but none-the-less I had hoped to hear from him to first, confirm that he and his family and Kiran were truly OK and secondly to try to get a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ perspective of how the nation of Nepal, and Dom specifically, was coping with this disaster.
I checked my email day and night, several times. Six anxious days passed and finally an email arrives from Dom. It reads as follows (I’ve edited it for easier reading – I think we’d all probably have difficulty writing in Nepalese if the situation were reversed):
Namaste, (nom-ess-tay – a traditional Hindu salutation meaning “I bow to the divine in you”)
Thank you for your email … yes there was big earthquake. Sorry for late reply, my phone was destroyed so I’m using a friends – the Internet and electricity have been out for many days. Kiran is fine and I am fine with my family as well although we lost everything. Our home was flatted along with everything in it. We now live in a tent in an open field away from buildings, along with most of the people from our village. Because I know the Himalayas well, I have been in the mountains trying to help some of the more remote villages where help cannot reach. Thanks for your thoughts and all the blogs about our trekking. I am so happy to keep in touch with you.
His email brought to life for me the nightmare that he and many of his countrymen must be going through . . . his home is now a tent in an open field! It was so like Dom, insuring that his family was safe, then setting out into the mountains that he knows so well to help others.
I wrote him back, thanking him for his email and telling him that Patrick and I would like to send him some money and asked how to do that. He replied . . .
Thank you very much for your email. It will be big support for me. I have a bank account but for a long time not using so better send by Western Union money transfer.
Name: Dom Bahadur Tamang Address: Okhaldhunga – Shreechaur -7, Nepal
I am very grateful for you and Patrick. It’s not easy even to write email. I am using friend’s mobile. Sorry for late reply. Thanks and best regards. Dom from Kathmandu
With all the scam charities out there, Patrick and I gave money with the satisfaction of knowing that our donation was not only going directly to someone who actually needed it, but someone who we actually knew and admired.
I asked Dom to let me know when he received the money, as I didn’t want it to end up in the pocket of some Western Union clerk. I had confirmed that it was picked up last Thursday, but had not heard from Dom, so I wasn’t sure he was the one that picked it up. Finally, this past Sunday I received an email from Dom saying he was sorry for the delay, but he was helping in the village and yes, he had picked up the money and returned to his village to help with the reconstruction process. He was very thankful.
The second earthquake, which fortunately was centered in a more remote region of Nepal, still killed over 90 people at last count and injured over 1,200, bringing the death toll for both earthquakes to well over 8,000, injuries to over 20,000 and physical damage to over half a million homes.
‘Tent cities’ have sprung up throughout the area and are filled with people who have lost their homes as well as those afraid to go back to their homes for fear of another earthquake.
The losses from these two quakes will be felt for many years to come. As a trekking guide, Dom will have less opportunity to earn a living, as tourism to the Himalayas will certainly drop off dramatically in the near term.
To Dom, Kiran and all Nepalese – “Namaste, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”