One year and a half after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, the country is still under ruins, over four million people still live in shelters and the Government seems to be overwhelmed. Before the earthquake hit, the country was swarmed with tourists but now you can hardly distinguish a foreign face among the Nepalese ones.
Statistics say that tourism, which was the bloodstream of Nepal, has dropped to as much as 70%. Fuel for airplanes, buses and cars wasn’t available anymore in the country, a fact which didn`t help either.
Maybe it seems a bit strange to talk about all these things on a platform focused on Romania. Maybe it is. But the quintessence of this article is structured around compassion, example, support.
Compassion – For a country which is well below Romania’s development level and with a poorer economy.
Example – How to find the strength to smile, when everything seems to be against you.
Support – Through an invitation to visit Nepal instead of some tropical island that could seem much more appealing.
Because for them each tourist matters. And because it is a good experience, for each and every one of us that gets there.
And what else could be more appropriate to convince you than a video made by a Romanian?
Below, Ion Cojocaru, this video’s author, has dropped a few lines and thoughts about his manifest and about Nepal.
A not very tangible souvenir from Nepal
“Nepal itself is a souvenir. It is like an amber stone, which captured in its fossilized resin a lively civilization with all its intact customs and traditions.
After my short visit to Nepal, I came back at peace with myself, more than before. At peace with my beliefs and values, at peace with all the things that are important to me and I should appreciate more in the future.”
“Somewhere over 4 million people still live in improvised shelters in Nepal. Some of them still live in the ruins of their old houses, others in tents made by the Red Cross and there are few that live even on the streets. Many of them are children. It`s hard to express what I saw and felt while I was there.
Despite all this however, I saw people who, although they lost everything, still find the strength to smile when you want to take a picture of them. I saw children that beg for food and not money. I saw families that didn`t give up, and work altogether to rebuild what`s left after the Earthquake. The fate has shaken their grounds, destroyed their houses and killed their families but didn`t shake their beliefs and values.
These are the poorest people I`ve ever seen and, at the same time, they are so rich through the customs and traditions that are still alive in their culture.
They are the essence of Nepal. The people.”
Similarities with Romania
“I was born and raised in Rahova, somewhere close to what is called Ferentari (a sort of Favela in Bucharest). The way people live in Nepal, mostly after the Earthquake, is, to some extent, similar to the poor areas in Romania. Despite all this, I don`t reckon to have seen there the spite I see in Romania. I felt safer there, among much poorer people than in Romania. I hope I`m not wrong, but this is the way I felt. Less malice in much worse conditions than in Romania.”
To be hosted by a Nepalese person
“I had not only lived with a Nepalese for a few days, but also I ate at the same table with him and his family, I went to the same places they go, I used the public transportation (something that I recommend to all the Romanians out there who complain about public transportation). During my short stay there I tried to live and behave like a Nepalese. I enjoyed every experience I had there.
When I left, Suraj, my Nepalese host, told me that I stepped into his house as a guest, but I`m leaving as a friend. I might not have had the best living standards there, but I certainly won a friend there.”
An example. For us
“Towards the end of my video, there are some frames where all the members of a family are carrying the debris from what is left from their house. A very young child, possibly at the age of 3, was carrying the wet soil with some kind of metal disc. His sisters, close to the age of majority, are shoveling and carrying the bricks with their bare hands. Everyone, including the eldest member of their family, well above the age of 80, is doing something. Somewhere, in a corner, another girl is washing her hair in a basin.
All those people have understood that they need to work, that they cannot wait forever for someone else to help them. They understood that there is of no use to just sit and complain about an unfortunate fate. It`s not easy but you need to do whatever you can to help yourself because no one else will do it for you. You cannot choose what you are given, but you can choose your attitude towards what`s been given to you, either good or bad.
These people found the strength to smile when I asked their permission to film them. All of them were so polite with me whereas others (as I was speaking previously about Ferentari ) might have treated me with contempt, malice and spite.”
A help. For them
“The message I`m trying to deliver thorough my manifest is the following: if we really want to help these people, we need to overcome our fears and doubts about Nepal and go visit their country.
The tourism is the bloodstream of Nepal`s economy. After the Earthquake it dropped to only a third of what it used to be and the people living there need it badly to survive. A visit to Nepal means a lot to them. And, at the same time, a visit to Nepal could mean a lot to us, as well. I don`t know if it is better or more beautiful than other places, but it surely is a unique and enriching experience. It is like visiting a living museum. It`s a win-win situation.
So, if you can and you want to, go #visitNepal. ”