Oftentimes we hear of tragedies on the news, we see the faces of the people affected and the devastation that occurred. We feel a twinge of sadness in our moment of empathy for these people, but we eventually move on with our day because, after all, we are not the ones directly affected by these events. Sometimes when tragedies strike, they are so distant they almost feel unreal. We think to ourselves, “How does something like this happen?” and then retreat to living in a state of denial, because living in denial is easier than living in a world where terrible disasters occur.
I would hear of mass murders, bombings and natural disasters and I would push them out of my mind, not because I did not care, but because I did not want to believe the universe could be so cruel. However, when I heard of the earthquake devastating Nepal it was quite difficult to block it out of my mind considering I was supposed to travel there in less than a month with a class through UW-Madison. Seeing images of the very streets I was supposed to walk on covered in rubble, the buildings toppled over that I was supposed to see, the people injured whom I was supposed to meet felt surreal. But how could I truly grasp the devastation of the earthquake in Nepal when it felt so far away?
During the week following the earthquake, a candlelight vigil was held in Madison, Wisconsin in honor of the Nepali people. I attended this vigil with a few classmates of whom I was supposed to travel to Nepal with.
For the first time in my life, a disaster felt real. I may have been thousands of miles away from the earthquake, but the reality of the devastation that occurred was so profound I could feel it in my bones, causing grief and sadness to wash over me.
As I walked away from the vigil, with tears streaming down my face, it hit me: It was time to stop living in denial. It was time to take action. This is why I decided to apply for the internship at Sarvodaya USA. Even though Nepal and Sri Lanka are a world away from Madison, I know I can still make difference.
You may feel as if you are a million miles away from these places as well. However, there are ways to make a difference in these countries no matter where in the world you live. Over the course of the next 2 months, myself and several other student interns will be collecting stories from Nepal and Sri Lanka and posting them here. We will also be coordinating fundraisers to aid in the continued relief efforts, so please follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to stay connected with us this summer. You can also subscribe to our email list here: http://www.sarvodayausa.org/connect.html to receive occasional emails summarizing what we’ve been up to.