The mission of aiding Nepal
'Did you feel that?'
Out of nowhere, people sprint toward building doors. You grab a fence post'latch on. You hear shouting, 'Everyone stay put!' So you do.
Lee Alumnus Shashank Shrestha was filming an event when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake violently shook Nepal's capital, Kathmandu on Saturday.
According to the Associated Press, more than 4,000 people had been confirmed dead in the earthquake as of today, and indications suggest the death toll across four countries is likely to rise substantially in the coming days.
Shrestha and his team were safe in Baluwatar, a ward in the northeast of Kathmandu, after what Shrestha said were the most chaotic 90 seconds of his life.
The Nepali people communicated over twitter, updating news and finding their loved ones, as normal phone lines were overburdened and texts worked sporadically.
After an hour of multiple aftershocks, Shrestha ventured around town to find the damages that he said were, 'just surreal.'
'The images were just harrowing,' Shrestha said. 'Places where I grew up, all that cultural heritage was just ... gone. It was just heartbreaking.'
Among the destroyed buildings in Kathmandu was the nine-story Dharahara Tower, a landmark built by Nepal's royal rulers as a watchtower in the 1800s and a UNESCO-recognized historical monument. It was reduced to rubble and there are reports of people trapped underneath, according to the Associated Press.
Shrestha said he visited Basantapur Palace Square where saw 'one of the oldest palaces, all in shambles ... the tallest floor literally swinging with the wind.'
Kathmandu's Basantapur Palace, built in European-style in 1908 as part of the ancient Royal Palace, has been extensively damaged, according to Press Trust of India (PTI).
'The Durbar Squares and the Palace and the Dharhara Tower, they represented us, they represented Nepal and its culture and beauty, and it's all gone now. The loss of inheritance has made bearing the loss of human lives, even more difficult,' Luxmee Maharjan, former journalist at the Kathmandu-based Himlayan Times, told PTI.
Shrestha helped out at two different crash sites, where he witnessed rescuers pull a dead body from rubble. He said this was the hardest thing for him to see. On Saturday, Shrestha stayed with his family, tweeting updates and staying in contact with leaders of the rescue and relief work.
Although the earthquake and continuing aftershocks have left the country and surrounding areas broken, Shrestha finds good in the way the people of Nepal, and the international community are handling the situation.
'The way tragedy brings us together is amazing,' Shrestha said. 'And the support from international community is just amazing. All we need now is action from everyone who can contribute. Like not only donation but skill, manpower, anything possible.'
Organizations such as UNICEF, Nepal Red Cross Society and Save the Children, along with multiple governments are currently sending aid to Nepal.
'It's just day two and the full extent of damage is just unfolding, but we must pull through, and we will,' Shrestha said.
Despite the support, there have been many tweets speaking out against Christian missionaries currently in Nepal.
Anupam Trivedi, head of BJP Communication Cell, tweeted, 'Sad! Appalling! Disgraceful!! #Missionaries trying to 'harvest souls' even in such tragic times of #NepalEarthquake.'
Trivedi quoted tweets from missionaries that are causing an outcry from people in Nepal.
'Pray that the primarily HINDU and BUDDHIST people of Nepal come to SAVING FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ,' @atheist_convert tweeted.
Despite this, the majority of tweets for #NepalEarthquake mention praying for Nepal'whether these prayers are to Allah or the Christian God.
Christian organizations such as Christian Aid, Samaritan's Purse and World Vision are helping victims with emergency shelter, water, hygiene kits and other emergency supplies, according to Christianity Today.
Short term mission worker, Wesley Hieb, recently returned from a 10-day mission trip to Nepal on Tuesday at the Kathmandu Greater Grace Church and Training Center, only a few days before the earthquake.
On Saturday, Hieb waited by the phone all day for bad news, yet it never came. He later discovered the church he had been working with was having service at the time of the earthquake. The church building was unharmed, although members returned to their homes only to find them reduced to rubble. Hieb said this was no coincidence.
'I would have a lot more dead friends right now,' Hieb said. 'By God's grace and timing, he had them all tucked away at church.'
Hieb said the missionaries and pastors he met in Nepal are aiding in the relief of the country and providing genuine care for the Nepali people, as well as continuing the work they have always done in sharing their beliefs.
'As a convicted Christian, we always want people to know about Jesus,' Hieb said. 'We want to use any scenario, whether clocking in [to work] in the morning or disaster, to tell people the good news of the gospel.'
Shrestha said he has not seen Christian missionaries taking advantage of Nepali people, but that he hopes this does not occur.
'It's a vulnerable time, time to show humanity, not to pursue an agenda,' Shrestha said.
One way to contribute financially to nonprofits providing aid in Nepal, is donating via paypal.