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Morning Glories surround a building destroyed by the earthquake in Nepal

Beauty in the Brokenness

I never imagined my first visit to Nepal would be to lead the communication efforts during the aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. But here I am.

Morning Glories surround a building destroyed by the earthquake in Nepal

I’m here in the middle of a disaster zone grabbing breakfast with the rest of our emergency response team (ERT), thinking about what I’ve seen so far since I arrived.

Getting up in the mornings after several aftershocks throughout the night is hard. I spent the first few nights in Kathmandu half asleep and half awake. And that’s me—I wasn’t here for the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shattered the lives of millions in Nepal and surrounding countries. The locals were still very terrified. Even if their homes were still intact, they have been sleeping outdoors for fear that the next time they wouldn’t be so lucky.

The first couple of days, I was in a haze. Jetlag and the rigorous work schedule had me so tired that I was on autopilot getting from the guesthouse to the office.

But although I was exhausted, my heart was (and still is) broken. People are suffering immensely. Most lost their homes; many lost their loved ones.

One morning, our group was unusually quiet during our commute to the ADRA Nepal office. As I walked with a heavy heart I thought, “I don’t think I can bear another story from this earthquake. It’s too sad. My heart is too heavy.”

In that moment, one of our colleagues stopped and gasped in awe. What I saw when I looked up completely took my breath away.

“Beauty in the brokenness,” said Britt Celine, from ADRA Norway as she took a photo of beautiful Morning Glories blooming over what was left of a house destroyed by the quake.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Beauty in the brokenness.

Until then, I had been focusing on the sadness and desperation of the brokenness. But I wasn’t thinking about how brave our ADRA Nepal staff had been.

Though they had been greatly affected like most, they are our very own Nepali heroes, serving people impacted by the earthquake despite their own needs.

I hadn’t been thinking about how the Nepalese were caring for one another, offering each other food, clearing the rubble, and sharing tarps and tents with their neighbors during the rain.

Then there is the flood of international support. Humanitarian workers from all over the world have poured in to help the people of Nepal. And those who haven’t been able to come have been praying and sharing words of encouragement and financial support.

The losses are great and unimaginable.

But every time there is a disaster, I see resilience in the human spirit and a spirit of service and compassion toward those who are suffering. It gives me hope that the brokenness will never win.

-Natalia López-Thismón

From Here to There

Welcome to ADRA’s new blog! We are very excited to have this outlet where we can share not only what we do, but also how and why we do it.

Whether your contribution is a prayer from your heart or a donation from your pocket, we want you to see how your action here changes lives there.

You might be asking where, exactly, is “there?” ADRA currently works in more than 130 countries around the world. In the next few weeks alone, Here & There will take you to Nepal, Mozambique, and Lebanon to see God’s love in action and meet those who have been touched by this ministry.

We’ll also be bringing in our technical experts, not only those based in Silver Spring, but also the local ADRA field staff worldwide, to answer your questions about how wells are dug, how goat banks work, and maybe even teach you a thing or two about gardening ADRA-style.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to the blog team:

 

Ashley

Ashley Eisele,
Content Manager

I’m a lifelong writer and the lucky editor of this new blog. Born in Tennessee, but also a citizen of Australia, I answer to both “howdy” and “g’day” if you need to get in touch: blog@adra.org.

 

Erykah

 Erykah St. Louis,
Digital Strategy Associate

  Erykah may not be familiar to you (yet), but
our new website is the product of her artistic
brain and stylish eye. She’s a one-woman digital powerhouse from Canada and a people magnet when she travels.

 

 

NataliaNatalia Lopez-Thismon,
Associate Director for Communication

Our communication and PR maven, Natalia, left the Miami Heat to join ADRA. Producing our TV show, this Venezuela native saw more of the world in 6 months than many will get to see in a lifetime.

 

Lauren

Lauren Lombard,
Marketing Specialist

An ambassador for ADRA, Lauren travels the country sharing our story at events. She loves being the bridge between the amazing people who make our work possible and those who inspire us.

 

Michael wall

Michael Rohm, Content Intern

An intern only in title (and pay), Michael is a vital member of our team. This Oregonian is a natural storyteller, a masterful copywriter, and a champion of following every goat trail wherever it may lead.

 

Stronger than the Storm

Stronger than the Storm: Behind the Scenes with Sanjay

 

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The man and his boy are bowed over the side of the boat, their faces dark in the shadow of the setting sun.  Cast against the light fading behind ageless mountains, they seem to flow formlessly with the sea, and, but for the flash of nimble fingers and woven nets, they are specters on the water.  The world is a wheel of dissolving colors in that encroaching night, and through it all the fingers dance and dart and cut through the shadows.

The man stands, his muscles straining.  The boy bends and grasps something below the surface, then lifts the hand-woven trap from the water and stands alongside his father.  Together they examine the crab clacking through the mesh.  There is a murmur of dialogue and then silence, as they bow over the side of the boat again.

I observe them from my boat until they have finished for the night, and in tandem we return toward shore.

PHILIPPINES 14-1225

Not long ago, this same man watched helplessly as his family began to starve. The sea that had once given Cesar the means to send his children to school had taken everything away from him, including his ability to feed his wife and kids.  With no food and no income, Cesar had no hope.

For people in the Philippines, the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan is measured not only in lives, but also in livelihoods.  When the unprecedented storm finally retreated into the ocean, thousands of boats lay in splinters along the coastline, leaving thousands of families with no source of income or sustenance.  In a country where life depends on the haul of one’s boat, the chaos was unprecedented.

The storm didn’t just take Cesar’s boat—it took most of his roof, too.  He thanks God it didn’t take any of his family, though that alone is a miracle.  When he showed me the damage to his house, I was amazed that there were no fatalities.  During the storm, the family fled to a downstairs corner in the kitchen, huddling together against the wall while the winds tore the roof piece by piece, leaving a gaping hole in its wake.  Had any member of his large family been caught upstairs, they would never have come down alive.

Fifteen months later and the roof is still a gaping hole.  When it rains, which it often does, Cesar and his family maneuver tarps and sheets and hope they hold, which they often don’t.  Over time, they have grown accustomed to the inconvenience. For Cesar, it is simply that—an inconvenience.  Compared to the agony of helplessness when he was unable to fish and feed his family, a roofless house is a small problem.

In the wake of Typhon Haiyan, ADRA got busy restoring order.  As soon as the immediate needs for food and clean water were met, they began repairing boats and nets and livelihoods.  They also offered a cash for work program where fishermen could earn money in exchange for making crab traps, which they then got to keep.  Watching them weave these crab traps was like watching a farmer planting seeds in a field.  These traps are the seeds of their future harvest, and a bastion against hunger and extreme poverty.

Crab Net

Now that he has a boat again, and new nets and crab traps, Cesar is confident that he will soon be able to fix his house.  For him, like so many others who depend on the sea for survival, it is all about the boat.  Just by owning this simple wooden vessel, Cesar has the means to feed his entire family, while earning money.  And though there may be a hole in his house, Cesar has a boat.  And that is the hope he needed.