By Gitanjali Sudhir, New York
( NOTE: My heartfelt thanks to Gitanjali, for putting the Nepal tragedy in an exemplary right perspective, by which I mean giving to each one his/her due share of tribute (Cui honor, honor), instead of projecting oneself as the one who deserves all credit. That is what it really means to be Catholic (which means ‘Universal’, not parochial. Unlike you Sudhir, many Catholics are parochial and sectarian.
Absolutely no doubt at all, it is India which is in the forefront doing the herculean task and bearing the brunt of helping those crushed under this catastrophe which visited Nepal, like a bolt from the blue. But there are also similar or better Good Samaritans around the globe doing their marathon service silently to retrieve those crushed under the boot of the fury of this earth quake.
All of us have to grow to become world citizens (not just Indian) and generous in saluting those mentioned in this article like, Australia, Canada, EU, Norway, Singapore, S.Korea, UK, US, UN, Pope Francis, Cor Unum, Italy, Caritas Internationals, Caritas India, Caritas Nepal, Caritas Australia, Catholic Church’s other organizations worldwide. In addition we have to ask ourselves the question: What are we – each one of us are doing – except praying and sympathizing with the victims and raising questions like “how many Indians or Keralites are affected?” highlighting our divisive, selfish, parochial mentality? Dr James kottoor)
It is the Earth Quake in Nepal. Media everywhere is flooding me with horrendous details, since last Saturday.The reports are getting ghastly, to say the least. 5000 [April 28] or more people killed.About 7500 believed to be severely injured.
80 lakhs of people have become displaced, 10 lakhs of men and women become homeless, 4 lakhs of homes destroyed, 2305 Indians have been returned safe to India, of whom 56 are from Tamilnadu [Vatican Radio, April 28]. Many more yet to be located and possibly reeling under the rubble.
Survivors forced to live in the streets – especially children, women, the sick and the aged. Historic monuments as well temples razed to the ground. Freezing temperature and torrential rains causing obstacle to rescue operations. Widespread vandalism and looting reported.
Many in panic are putting up makeshift tents in the open streets, refusing to go back home and fearing the aftershock [over 60 counted].Police presence either to provide safe haven to the displaced or to contain the miscreants is practically none. To say the least, there is a total paralysis of life in the city of Kathmandu and around.
One news outlet observes, “For quite some time scientists have realized that the Kathmandu valley is one of the most dangerous places in the world, in terms of earthquake risk. Now a combination
of high seismic activity at the front of the Tibetan plateau, poor building standards and haphazard urbanization have come together with fatal consequences.”
Indeed, a catastrophe of this proportion also has brought the best of humanity together. Countries have rushed to stand by the devastated nation. India has come forward with relief workers and substantial amount of material help.The US first released immediately $1000, 000 together with trained evacuation staff.
A CNN Report [April 27] states that several countries are contributing generously: Australia [$3.9 million] , Canada [$4.1 million], European Union [$3.25 million], Norway [$3.9], Singapore [$75,000], South Korea [$1 million], United Kingdom [$5 million] and United States [$10 million].In additions to funds, other countries are dispatching relief workers.International Organizations and Aid Establishments have come forward to extend assistance.The UN alone has earmarked US$15 Million toward assistance.
Pope Francis in Vatican offered prayers both for the victims as well as for the rescue and emergency workers. “I pray for the victims, those wounded and for all those who suffer because of this calamity,” he said.Together with prayers, he has dispensed US$1 Million through the agency, COR UNUM. Italy’s Catholic Church has responded to the appeal of Pope Francis for Nepal, sanctioning 3 Million Euros for emergency relief work.
Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s worldwide charity network is requesting funds to provide immediate relief and temporary shelters to the quake-hit people in Nepal.Caritas India – an arm of the Caritas Internationalis – is already on the ground, working with Caritas Nepal and Caritas Australia. Catholic Church’s other organizations worldwide and other Churches’ Relief groups are collaborating.
As for me, I was up to now drowned in philosophical deliberations and policy analyses about global warming, gender equality, marriage of men with men/ of women with women [And what next? man and holy cow?!], war and peace, nuclear disarmament, economic sanctions, riots in my neighborhood, immigration reform, exporting my model of democracy under the guise of people empowerment, family wage-issues, profiteering all over the world etc.
Suddenly, Nepal has come knocking at my door and the global conscience with all urgency it could muster. Let me then wake up and hear “the wailing in Ramah, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel lamenting for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more”. [Matthew 2:18]
A text of my student days has the following: “For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”
Finally, the best motive that propels anyone toward moral extroversion – the inner urge “to carve one’s name on neighbors’ hearts [not on one’s own tombstone]” – indeed has its imperceptible roots in God – either directly traceable in broad light or tortuously groped down in darkness. When such a God finds me, it is pure bliss.
Moreover, He says: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you have me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, and I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”. [Matthew 25:35-36]
To Him I pray for Nepal. May she heal herself, being supported by the million hearts and hands of her global neighbors that have rushed [Who is rushing, other than He Himself?!] to be with her in this tragedy.
GITANJALI A BERNARD, NEW YORK. firstname.lastname@example.org