I am content, comfortable and serene. I slumber in peace, blissfully unaware of the nefarious activity taking place just outside my window. In a moment, I am jolted awake by beams of light that crept upon me like a cat stalking its prey. Surveying the room my heart jumps whilst my brain tries to recall where I am. Drunkenly I pat around for my phone as pupils adjust to searing rays. What time is it? Why am I in a twin bed? Whose luggage is that? Where is my wife? As reality slowly saunters back into my brain I check the time. 5:00am. A full four hours before I am scheduled for orientation at CARE’s main office. The city is quite, so I take the opportunity to go for a run and survey my surroundings. After about a mile I am forced to walk, I forgot about the elevation difference. I live at sea level and Kathmandu sits at 4500ft. This is going to take some getting used to.
My first full day in Nepal was an interesting mix of confusion and excitement. At 9am I was escorted by a driver to CARE Nepal’s main office. Here I am given security and safety briefings and then sat at a desk and asked to stay busy until my official orientation at 2:30pm. I read through, fill out, and sign the stack of compliance documents layered before me. A quick glance toward the clock, 10 min have passed. Read and respond to e-mails, 10 minutes more. I mumble to myself, but manage to catch the words before they escape my lips. What should I do with the next 4 hours? I am able, however to answer my own question. It’s only the first day and you’re not going to be working in this office. Just sit down take a breath and be patient. Unbeknownst to me, things were about to get more interesting…well sort of.
Have you ever lived through an earthquake? Residing on the east coast most of my life I can honestly say I have not had the pleasure. In April 2015 a violent 7.8 magnitude Earthquake hit Nepal and judging by the rubble still around today it’s not something I want to experience. I’m not sure how to describe the aftershock that supposedly just occurred because I simply did not feel it. But not to worry all the CARE employees in the building did, so out the door we go. “Get in line!” the safety personnel announce in a language I don’t understand but was able to follow just by the context. The plan is to arrange by floor and make sure everyone has exited safely. Out in the courtyard I meet Bhuwan, one of the people I will be working with. We chat for a bit and make plans to ride out to Dhulikhel together on Thursday. Eventually we are cleared to move back inside and the rest of the afternoon goes by without incident, I spend my time reading progress reports and learning as much as possible about the SAMMAN project. Before I know it is time for my “orientation”, which was really a short list of do’s and a long list of definitely do not’s while working with CARE International. Now there’s something the corporate and non-profit sector has in common!