HaysMed Doctor Tells Story of Nepal Devastation
Hays Daily News
July 21, 2015
Nearly three months have passed since the ground shook in Nepal on April 25, injuring more than 23,000 people and killing approximately 9,000.
An unimaginable number of survivors were left homeless — forced to sleep in tents with limited medical care and supplies as they feared what was to come — after an earthquake that measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale rocked the small Asian country.
Hays Medical Center cardiologists Dr. Rashmi Thapa and Dr. Anil Pandit, who were born and raised in Kathmandu — the capital of Nepal — learned of the quake the night of its occurrence, and they wished for nothing more than to be there with friends and family.
Thapa couldn’t shake feeling needed and decided to make it happen.
The cardiologist left for Nepal in early May to begin a journey in which she provided medical care and supplies to affected victims.
“We had a group of doctors already there that had come from different parts of the United States,” Thapa said. “Together, we went to the areas affected by the earthquake.”
When her plane landed, she was is disbelief of all that surrounded her. Never had she seen the airport so disorganized and chaotic.
“It was just a big mess,” she said. “I have never seen it like that, and it was because there were supplies coming in from all over the world.”
Her team made its way to the worst affected areas, and nothing could prepare her for what she saw.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh my God,’ “ Thapa said. “I had never seen my city that way or the people that way.”
Her group stayed busy examining victims, providing medical care, distributing food and supplies, and helping in any way they could.
Thapa said they were able to go to six different areas that were affected — five of which were remote areas outside of larger cities.
After nearly 10 days, disaster unexpectedly struck again, when a second earthquake hit May 12.
“It was a horrible experience,” Thapa said. “You could see the buildings crumbling in front of you, and you kind of became helpless in the situation.”
People began running frantically, screaming — stricken with fear.
“It was so scary,” Thapa said. “It was the feeling of knowing another big disaster was coming and there was nothing you could do.”
After the second big shake, Thapa and her family slept in tents outside for several days until they decided to re-enter her home.
“We slept on the floor right next to the door in case we had to run,” she said.
Throughout all the fear, panic and uncertainty, Thapa continued aiding victims. Her group discovered a rural village called Sipapokhare, where out of approximately 1,100 houses, only 11 still stood.
“More than 30 or 40 people died in that village, which is big,” she said. “We wanted to try to help them.”
Through a project Thapa’s team started, called Mission Rebuild Nepal, 15 houses in Sipapokhare — priced at approximately $335 a house — have been rebuilt, and the work continues.
Thapa’s brother, Kirti Thapa, is the project manager for Mission Rebuild Nepal.
“Recovery is hard but not impossible,” he said. “We will continue to rise and rebuild together.”
Thapa returned to her normal routine at HaysMed on June 1, but not a day goes by that her mind isn’t home.
She remains thankful for her family’s safety and for worldwide support.
“The disaster was all around me, but I saw good things, too,” she said. “What meant the most to me was everyone coming together to help. It really was incredible to see.”
To donate toward Mission Rebuild Nepal, visit www.missionrebuildnepal.com.