April 27, 2015, Chino Valley- Nepal, and the Himalayan region in general, is suffering deeply from the effects of Sunday’s earthquake and the ongoing aftershocks. A great deal of attention is going to the Westerners who are stuck on the slopes of Mount Everest. To be sure, the deaths of climbers are as tragic, in their way, as any other loss. Trekking is a key source of revenue for the Nepalese, as for those in Indian Sikkim, in Pakistani Swat and in Bhutan, which is only recently opening up to the mountaineers.
The immediate concern of most of the international community, though, is the plight of ordinary Nepalese. The one silver lining for them is that the Himalayan winter is drawing to a close, and the monsoons are a ways off. This gives the army of native and international aid workers a chance to accomplish the slow, painstaking work of clearing rubble, burying the dead, healing the injured, replanting fields and initiating long-term reconstruction.
These are orders as tall as Sagarmatha, the Sherpa name for Mount Everest. The process is as delicate as the ice sheets which now present an obstacle to several climbers who are trying to descend the mighty overlord. It will require fortitude as enduring as the great mountain itself.
There remain, though, the vagaries of the News Cycle, and by Wednesday, much ado will again be made of the Clinton Foundation (about which, more later) and due attention will be paid to Baltimore (about which, more tomorrow). The marriage issue will also supplant matters abroad, for a time.
I am neither young, nor financially wealthy. The skills I would bring to the table, were I to go to a disaster area, would be the ability to teach the young, a well of compassion and the willingness to get my hands dirty, doing whatever is needed to rebuild the community. I am unlikely to just jump on a plane, though, and show up with a bright, but determined, face.
These are my scattered thoughts about the shattered and beautiful land and its people. For now, I will finish the academic year, comforting those closer to home, getting a rootless man on his way to a better life in another state and pushing forward with my Spirit Quest to the northwest coast.