[Over the last 30 days in Nepal, 75 4.5M+ and 150 2.5M+ earthquakes have occurred. See the current status at earthquake.usgs.gov. —C.M.H.]
The effects of the continuing instability in Nepal are perhaps more tragic and deeply-scarring than the physical devastation that blights the landscape. “There is already evidence that the quakes are impacting on mental health,” says Dr Sonya Martin, psychiatrist for the Ciwec hospital and travel medicine centre in Kathmandu. “The quakes have incited widespread fear and uncertainty about what the future will bring.”
Research suggests that the long-term emotional consequences of a disaster are related to feelings of powerlessness and lack of control over forces bigger than oneself. The fragile veneer of forced normalcy that had settled on the strange new “post-disaster” Nepal, the world of tents and meal hand-outs, was cracked open after an aftershock as big as the one on Tuesday, and the continuing tremors mean that victims are constantly revisited by their indiscriminate attacker. Rather than subsiding with time, the extreme stress response is being prolonged over days and weeks.
Science also unfortunately holds little comfort for those looking for certainty and rationality…
We had an adventure of a trip across Nepal last week. We were on our way to language school. The monsoon — slow coming this year — dumped at last upon the Himalayan Range. The hills came down in floods and landslides on hapless villages and roads. Highway bridges broke. We tried to wait it out at the border. After a few days we flew in K—— with S—— for the start of her classes. I took the big ’uns and drove a 4×4 truck on a long detour.
People and goods made their way on foot across a major bridge that was disabled. Vehicles waited on either side to make the exchange. Our detour road was swamped like a terraced rice paddy. We made our way through the mire and enjoyed the village scenes.
During the following day’s drive, we reached the hills and stopped for a break. The car wouldn’t start up again. Some soldiers were there and friendly. They called a young man who called a mechanic who said the battery was dead. He asked how far we had to go — almost 6 more hours. He jump-started it and said, “Don’t stop till you get there.”
Meanwhile, K——’s connecting flight in the capital had been downed by the rain and flights backed up for days. She hopped on a bus for the rest of the way — that road was clear. In the end, after 3 days, she got to our destination 3 hours ahead of us who were in the truck. A mercy: the kids didn’t complain a bit and showed me they could make it on any trip. Of course, it probably helped that they thought we were in a race with mom and brother.
The floods and landslides this year have displaced thousands and killed over 200 across Nepal. Many need help and damaged infrastructure makes aid difficult. Remember these families today. There are churches in the affected areas; ask that they would, “devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they will not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14 HCSB).