It all started roughly one year back, back to my first summer break in school. I joined my hall’s overseas expedition project to Laos, and eventually decided to succeed the project as the next chairperson. To me, that was no small decision as I had just unknowingly placed my internship on the line, along with a few other opportunities that I would eventually have to give up, including a chance to study abroad as an exchange student.
This year’s journey had been nothing short of challenging and tumultuous. When I stated in my project proposal that I wanted to “challenge myself” and “grow as an individual” by choosing a totally new area to go to, I didn’t expect such a literal manifestation of events along the journey. We decided to head to Nepal, a relatively less popular area for community involvement projects probably due to its cost. Personally, I still stand by my decision. I have been to Nepal on a previous trip and the experience left me with a deep impression. I knew in my heart that executing a community involvement project was just simply the right thing to do.
Fast forward 9 months and I now stand at the brink of seeing the hard work of my team in the past year go down the drain. Just yesterday news came in of an earthquake measuring 7.8, killing nearly a thousand so far and crippling telecommunications and roads in Nepal, an already poor and developing country. My heart goes out to all the Nepalese people in these trying times, and I was really glad to receive word from my friends over there that they are safe and sound.
From a practical and realistic point of view, I feel that my project has a slim chance of carrying on. A city recovering from an earthquake of this scale is far from hospitable. When I last visited Christchurch in December 2014 the scars were still there, and people were still rebuilding. Let’s not even talk about the structural integrity of buildings, the debris and damaged buildings all around would lead to unhygienic conditions which will lead to diseases potentially spreading around. The routes which we take from the capital, Kathmandu to the outskirts of Nagarkot are made up of treacherous terrain and narrow roads, roads which might have been blocked off or destroyed by the tremors.
I really felt a sense of devastation as I read the International SOS’s official travel advice changing by the hour to include the words – “Defer all travel”. It wasn’t the kind of “oh shit, something’s cropped up we need to solve it” feeling you get when you need to fight fire at work or for some project. It is something far bigger and frankly, out of my control. I guess that’s what it feels like to be defeated. For an entire year I have trudged upon this journey, almost facing every single imaginable obstacle. Initially, I didn’t even know if we could go to Nepal as only 5 teams could be chosen and we were just not the cool kids on the block. In retrospect, maybe I should have been less stubborn and stuck with the easy way out, going back to Laos. It wasn’t the end of my troubles as I had to deal with funding issues, late applications and rejection of our choice of partners and even reimbursement issues “dapaoed” from the previous trip. Not to mention my own internship issues, which got me into quite serious shit.
But out of it all, I really asked myself – is it fate??? Did I somehow jinxed this? Nepal had not had such a devastating earthquake in 80 years. This may sound selfish but, it had to happen now? Just right as we were about to go for the trip? It seems as though overseas expeditions that I led are destined to fail. When I was in JC an overseas expedition to Cameron Highland abruptly ended when our teachers (4 out of 5) got into a car accident.
I can’t make what to do with this now. Life really throws you curve balls.