Our family had just sat down for breakfast, ordered coffee and then the walls around us collapsed. My wife and I covered our children as we sought shelter under a table. It was surreal. Our car was totaled but, thank God, nobody was in it. Our life changed in those 30 seconds. That night we slept in sleeping bags outside our home with the rest of our neighborhood. There were aftershocks all through the night.
The view of the city from our home was completely dark. Kathmandu lost power for 72 hours. That’s 700,000 people without power or Internet. After two shaky nights and making sure the rest of our team at Medic Mobile was safe, we were in Health, Logistics, Emergency, Communications, and Shelter cluster meetings. We’ve seen aid and volunteers come from Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Israel, France, China, and the United States. We are seeing all levels of the government of Nepal working tirelessly to deliver aid. They’re getting the wounded treatment and making sure people have shelter.
We are not an organization focused on disaster response, but our team and our toolkit are in a unique position to help. We have teammates in Kathmandu, multiple active projects in Nepal using our tools, and a relationship with the Ministry of Health and Population. Our immediate focus is helping the government gather and analyze information from hospitals and clinics in affected areas. Medic Mobile can be deployed quickly and is designed to support health workers on their own devices – including smartphones, basic phones, and computers.
We know there is a risk of maternal and child deaths because routine systems of care have collapsed. To address this quickly, we are planning to deploy Medic Mobile for disease surveillance, antenatal care coordination, childhood immunization coordination, disease surveillance, stock monitoring, and general communication. We are working alongside committed partners and focusing on rebuilding in affected districts including Dhading, Gorkha, and Sindalpolchowk.
We are also providing our self-service software toolkit to health facilities and organizations that need it. Using GSM modems, airtime, and our free software, clinics can quickly create offline communication hubs and support community health workers and families.
My family and I have moved back into our home and we’re focused now on using our energy to help. An earthquake quite literally shakes you out of your normal life and immediately throws you into uncertainty. It is precisely this uncertainty that makes the solidarity of individuals, communities, governments and organizations in the relief efforts following an earthquake all the more remarkable.
All of the Nepalis who have worked non-stop during this response have left their own families and homes to help others in their country. Many have lost loved ones and suffered damage to their houses but have chosen to give to others. While the disaster here in Nepal has been devastating, underneath that layer of debris and rubble that we see is dedication, caring and a deep love for humanity.