Some moments get etched into your memory deeper and more vibrantly than others. Such was the case on Saturday, April 25 just before noon. Last September, my sons [Brad 7/63 and Kyle 2/68] and I decided to write to each other on a selected topic each month at a more personal and transparent level than usual letters. It has proven very enlightening and meaningful while also infringing upon some comfort zones and resulting in occasional pain. Being deeply truthful can do that. Last Saturday at about 11:50 I finished a segment of my next correspondence [subject: Freedom], printed it, turned off the computer and printer, and sat down to review my words. At 11:56 I was running out the door and down three flights of stairs for my life. My neighbor lady and her 17-year-old daughter were doing the same from the 2nd floor. The look on their faces was pure FEAR. Their screams and crying matched. I will never forget their faces, the swaying stairway, and those desperate moments of the unknown.
EARTHQUATE = FEAR, as I have never known. PANIC = How each person handles fear. The streets were a lesson in degrees of panic.
There are many things that you know much better than I. I don’t have a TV, have not seen CNN and BBC, and the local newspapers are not what you would expect. However, experience will teach you things that the papers and the newscasters can’t capture. A picture is worth a thousand words. You must be well supplied with information. All of us have seen pictures of hurricanes, the tsunami, war, and Hiroshima. Pictures tell the story but can’t capture the experience. The devastation is overwhelming from any view, yet it is magnified greatly by personal experience.
The whole city has been without electricity. My area was the last to have power restored. No Internet service until today [Wednesday]. Usually we only have about 8-10 hours of electricity per day [in two segments]. I’m sure that will be greatly reduced. I had no cell phone connection until today. We have no water.
The good news ……… everyone I know is healthy. No deaths, no hospitalization, and no serious injuries to those I know or to me. My time has been spent with the children we have helped over the last 18 years. Their family is not measured by DNA, but by common experience, support, love, and by hardship. Being with them almost all the time has been good for all of us.
Little things ……… Saturday at 11:57 I reached the road barefoot. Ten of our young ladies and men and myself went to an open field to be safe from falling buildings. We stayed there for five hours. We came back to my flat [apartment] and had dinner. I put my shoes on about 5:00 and have not taken them off since. Top priority has been to always be ready to run. I also put some emergency money in my backpack. It has not left my side. Sunday and Monday night we slept outside in what I would describe as a refugee camp. There were over 2,000 people sleeping at this park. There were 2 toilets. I slept with my shoes on and my backpack strap hooked on to my arm. The people were extremely nice, cooperative, and friendly. We were all in the same boat of tragedy and everyone exhibited the golden rule …. without know what it says …. just by instinct and situation.
Tuesday night we slept in the carport at my flat. They are still too frightened to sleep inside. We did cook and eat inside and they played Yahtzee. Their laughter was therapeutic for them and music to my ears. Things are getting better. Tonight the boys are sleeping at their own flat, and the girls are in one room at my flat and I’m in the living room. We haul water from a nearby water pump.
The damage is monumental. I know people who have lost their homes. Many villages where I have visited and have friends have 80% of the homes destroyed. The monsoon rains begin in mid-June. Prices are going up enormously. The government is justly being criticized locally and internationally for their attitude, ineptness, and corruption. Clothing, food, water, and medical supplies have arrived and are sitting at the airport. In the past the government has given the distribution rights to private companies, a.k.a., meaning friends. They sell these items that are suppose to be free and give 25% back to their government friends.
I suggest that you consider helping with some relief funds. Spread the news to your friends, to church organizations, civic clubs, and with anyone who will have a heart to help ……… when they know that 100% of their financial assistance will be used for the people in need. I suggest one of these two avenues:
Children of Kathmandu: You can read about this charity that Judy and I established 18 years ago by going to www.childrenofkathmandu.org. All donations will be tax deductible and you have an 18-year history of all the money going directly to those in need for the purpose specified. In the past about 5% has been spent on printing, stamps, and other inexpensive fund raising methods. Make checks payable to CHILDREN OF KATHMANDU. Under MEMO please indicate Earthquake Relief. The address and information is as follows:
Children of Kathmandu
3801 Spruce Meadow Drive
Bozeman, MT 59718 Phone: 406-585-8028
The Lakewood Church of Christ already is helping with here. Your donation will also be tax deductible. You can make the check payable to LAKEWOOD CHURCH OF CHRIST and again under MEMO write Earthquake Relief. Please send these checks to my sister and brother-in-law as follows:
Lorna & Steve Rudd
6011 Coldbrook Ave.
Lakewood, CA 90713-1025 Phone: 562-866-7953
Help is badly needed. Either of the above ways will provide the maximum bang for your buck. No salaries, no unknown expenses, and local knowledgeable American and Nepali cooperation for the needed purpose.
Thank you for your concern and prayers ……………
More personal e-mails will follow over the next couple of weeks.