As Islamic Relief works around the clock to organise aid, Fadi Itani reports on the unbounded energy on Nepal’s young people who too are tireless in their efforts to help.
I am inspired by the young people of Nepal.
Young people are the future of the nations they inhabit. It is their energy, passion and connections with each other and the land around them that drives them forward. I remember, from my time with the Scouts, being told that if you didn’t make young people busy, they would make you busy. It is true, and their energy is uplifting.
Visiting sites affected by the earthquake, whether camps for displaced people, hospitals, or aid distribution centres, I am amazed by the large numbers of young people I see volunteering. They are trying to comfort people, soothe those who were injured, and they are out in force clearing rubble from the roads. They are determined to bring a sense of normality back to their communities.
A few days ago, we asked some local organisations for some volunteers to help us. We planned to train them and give them some information about our progammes and thought they might find around 10-15 people. We were astounded when they found 50 people who wanted to help.
Visiting Ber hospital in Kathmandu, I see yet more young people volunteering. There were large numbers of young people at the front desk, enrolling to help – with security, as cleaners, to push wheelchairs. Inside, I saw around 250 volunteers spread across the hospital’s seven floors. At every bed was a volunteer looking after the patient and comforting him or her. They did not mind what task they were assigned to, and were determined not to leave their positions until they had handed over to the next shift of volunteers. Others were medical students, supporting overstretched professionals.
The shortage of people in the hospital was exacerbated by the fact that many locals who worked in Kathmandu returned to their home villages to help their families. It is understandable, but it has left a vacuum of need in many organisations. It is this gap that young volunteers were filling.
Walking around the hospital, there were clear signs of the earthquake on the bodies and souls of all people, young and old, and I noted broken arms and legs, minor injuries and serious ones. In one section, I meet Aakriti. Eighteen years old and in her first year at university studying psychology, her energy was tireless. Two days after the earthquake, she started volunteering at the hospital. I asked her when her work there would stop.
“When every patient has gone,” she said. “This is the time when we need to be with our people and our country.”
All over the world, I have seen volunteers help with our fundraising efforts. I know how important they are to our work saving lives and it’s overwhelming to see young Nepalese people making a difference to both the present and future of their nation.
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