Red Eyes and Airports – Nepal Earthquake Response Part 1

In Humanitarian Response, Nepal on April 30, 2015 at 8:48 pm
27 April 2015, 2:35pm, Home
I’m booked to go to Nepal. It’s turning out to be this year’s banner natural disaster.  My NGO has mobilized very quickly and we’re sending in a large team, mostly made up of people from the India program but also from around the region.  There are still many people with fresh experience in both the Philippines and even Haiti.  Something about Natural Disasters brings out stronger motivation in people – way more than these civil war or political violence situations. I’m struck with how much momentum there is to help in this situation when it’s just as dire in Syria or South Sudan…  But some altruism is better than none.
I’m steeling myself to absorb some serious tragedy. My job is as a Human Resources Technical advisor – I’ll be going to facilitate staffing – local and international.  I expect I’ll be interviewing many local people and helping hire them on – so I’m expecting to hear a lot of awful stories that are fresh in people’s minds… I’ll be there by Thursday so the disaster won’t even have been a week old by then.
I have to pack a tent and sleeping bag, and they say it’s raining. The weather shows that it’s only in the mid 70’s during the day, so I’m not too worried about it being extremely cold, although I suppose it could get cold at night.
29 April, 2015 7:25pm Istanbul Airport
This is my 5th time flying through Istanbul.  I actually have a frequent buyer card with the Caffe Nero here, a few more lattes and I’ll get a free one.
Love the total internationalist crowd that flies through here, it really is a true cross section of humanity, with Africans, Asians, Europeans, the Americas…  I passed by my gate, it’s a little too early to be there, but I can already spot the aid workers.  Looks like there are some search and rescue (SAR) people, as well as some European aid workers. I didn’t wear my NGO shirt… I seems to like wearing the same outfit when I travel, which is currently jeans and a thin cotton button down shirt.
Thank god for the T-Mobile international data roaming… Tons of emails on Nepal, looks like my first order of business will be to help staff up for distributions we’re planning for May 1. Than to get a handle on all the international staff that have come through.  We’ve got a lot of staff with relatively recent disaster experience in the Philippines, and our veterans are from the Haiti response.  This is my first big deal disaster response deployment, on this scale. I hope it doesn’t show to my colleagues… For my past jobs it was more second wave, going in once early recovery started.
30 April 2015 Kathmandu, Nepal
Arrived this morning, that was a brutal travel schedule, two red-eyes in a row.  I kind of slept but my body clock is just broken.
Flying in, I was surprised with how much of Kathmandu looks totally fine.  I have no frame of reference as this is my first time to Nepal.  But talking to people about it – this was already a pretty poor country, with typical run-down areas and roads, etc.  There were many buildings that looked totally fine, whole areas and neighborhoods that were in tact.  Driving through the city, there were some shops open, selling anything – fruit, household goods, like your typical bodega shops.
Apparently there is a 3 day mourning period going on right now, so many shop are closed. That would explain how dead it was in the city when I was driving around at about 8:45am.

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