Last week’s news was full of the devastating images of the Nepal earthquake, and you have probably heard Father Daniel mention Nepal in the intercessory prayers of the Mass. After having seen the news give reports on many disasters and tragedies over the years, I realize how hard it is to feel the weight of a event occurring on the other side of the globe, even one as cataclysmic as this. We might say a little prayer for them, thank God that we weren’t there, and move on with our lives. It is difficult to love what we do not know. For me, however, this latest cataclysm to cross my screen during the CNN Breaking News reel was different. Nepal was my home for sixteen years, and it been the home of three generations of my family. I was born in Kathmandu, the city whose destruction has inundated the news. I went on school field trips to Patan Durbar Square, where the temples that we marveled at are now little more than rubble. I passed by the iconic Dharahara Tower every weekend on the way to play soccer, which now looks like a great tree that has been cut to its stump.
I’ve spent the last week not quite sure what to do with myself. I have been busying texting and calling friends from Nepal that are now in the US, checking to see whether their families and friends are safe. We received word quite quickly that our uncle and aunt were safe, and that most of our expatriate friends had survived as well. My old school had a couple of walls cave in, but nobody in that area was injured. The same cannot be said for the rest of the city and the surrounding villages. We still have yet to hear from many of our good Nepali friends. My home has been reduced to panic and chaos, and here I am, in beautiful Waco, entering the final stretch of my undergraduate career. It is odd and confusing to know that I will never again see the place I called my home for so long. The city that I grew up to love is gone. Most of the old buildings are completely destroyed, and the infrastructure of the rest of the city has been badly damaged. At the present time the death toll is 7500, but my father tells me that it will be months before they will be able to survey the surrounding villages, where the majority of the damage, and deaths, will have happened. Already we know that entire villages, which many of us knew as popular stops along Himalayan trek routes, have been completely wiped out.
This is a loss with a weight that I feel helpless to convey fully. I cannot convey it any more than I was able to convey the loss of leaving Nepal when my family moved to the US. It can only be described as a sort of death. Yet this loss cannot be remotely comparable to the millions who have been affected in Nepal. Already, the news is filled with tragic stories of children orphaned and homes destroyed, and pictures of mangled bodies and bloodied bricks.
While the news begins to forget about Nepal, I ask you to continue to pray for the people there in whatever small way you can. Like I said at the beginning, it is hard to love what you do not know. For all of you, this event is utterly foreign (in fact, Nepal is literally on the other side of the world from Texas). I do not ask for heroic acts of compassion, but please remember Nepal in your prayers. Catholic Relief Services and Aid to the Church in Need are two major Catholic organizations that you can support that are responding to the needs in Nepal . Most dioceses in the US will be taking up special collections at a Mass sometime this month to aid in the recovery.
It is easy in these times to wonder what is His holy plan. Yet, I thank God that He does have a plan, in which He will “reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth, or things in heaven…” Let us remember those who are our brothers and sisters in Nepal, whether through the brotherhood of man, or the brotherhood of Christ. Let us ask for God to have mercy on them, to pour out His loving kindness upon them, and to fill them with His peace.
Zach Watters is a senior University Scholars major at Baylor who became Catholic in April of 2014. Read more about his upbringing in Nepal and the story of his journey to become Catholic.