Angy Pradhan is the Fundraising and Partnership Intern at Restless Development Nepal. In this blog she talks about how young people played a leading role in the response to the devastating earthquake, fulfilling their urge to participate and lead development efforts as articulated few months before the earthquake in our Big Conversation.
On the 25th April 2015, nature struck a devastating blow with a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal. We found ourselves in the middle of a nightmare during middle of the day, we were beyond devastated. With continuous aftershocks rattling time and again, we hoped the tremors would settle, but our hopes were far from reality.
During the quake I was constantly being reminded of the movie ‘2012’, where the world comes to an end. People were running for their lives and houses were collapsing. Although the situation didn’t go as far as in the movie, frequent aftershocks and chaos meant life was unpleasant and unpredictable!
I have always been optimistic, but I couldn’t turn towards positive thoughts during a time when my country was falling apart. Tragic photographs and videos of buildings turning into rubble and people running for their lives were all over the Internet. Amidst the chaos, I encountered something that I had never expected from my people. I was taken by surprise as I saw people helping each other regardless of their caste or religion.
Shortly before the earthquake hit, Restless Development carried out the Big Conversation, a global dialogue on how young people can take a leading role in tackling the most important issues in the world. The results of the consultation in Nepal showed that youth believe in changing the world. Young people said they want to motivate other youth to participate, learn life skills and lead development efforts; be advocates for issues that are important to them and their peers, call for accountability and be responsible citizens.
The disaster provided a platform for youth to put in practice what they articulated in the Big Conversation and show their true capability. With the support of Restless Development, young people grabbed this opportunity and responded immediately. The disaster lit an extraordinary feeling of communal spirit, volunteerism and social consciousness, especially among the youth of Nepal. Restless Development’s young volunteers invested their time and energy in distributing relief materials like tents, food, medicines and other necessary items to those in need. They proved they are responsible citizens, motivating others to mobilize and respond.
Restless Development’s energetic and dedicated volunteers also helped to successfully establish 300 Temporary Learning Centers across Nepal, providing safe education spaces for children. Watching them work for those who are in need encouraged people to do what they could to make a difference. Undoubtedly, they have motivated and instilled a sense of responsibility in me and I believe they had similar effect for many others.
“Through Restless Development we have been able to contribute in building temporary learning centers” – Restless Development volunteer
It was heartening to see how diversely our young people were working for a good cause. They were both trainees and trainers- after receiving training on psychosocial first aid, they facilitated learning among the teachers and the students. Moreover, they reached out to children in need at school to help them get back to their normal lives. Indeed, the youth have stood by Restless Development’s core values of “Heart- we are who we serve” and “Hands – we are in it together”.
The youth of Nepal have proved how they can support other young people to learn and lead as expressed in the Big Conversation. Moreover, they did it in a moment in which the country was in a critical state after the quake.