Petra Márová writing from Nepal
In April last year a small kingdom on top of the roof of the world was hit by an earthquake – the strongest one since 1934. The country is still dealing with the consequences today and humanitarian organisations around the world have been helping to repair the damage. Because there was no way of getting all available products to those who needed them, a group of people decided to help on their own – our colleague, Petra Márová, travelled with one of them to Nepal a few weeks ago. We supplied her with many presents for the earthquake victims – antibacterial gels, office and hygienic supplies, baby clothes and money. And when she came back, we had many questions waiting for her :)
Five questions for Petra
How did you end up on a humanitarian mission in Nepal? Was it a spontaneous decision or do you travel regularly?
It was a spontaneous decision. I’m a fan of one e-shop that delivers goods from Nepal and they publicly offered the opportunity to take part in the expedition. I didn’t even hope they would pick me. My primary motivation was that I could visit a place that I have always found very intriguing. A dream come true. I love mountains, I love the clothes and handbags they make there. But when I realised what the actual purpose of the journey was, I got really into it. Before then, I hadn’t known how much help was needed there after the earthquake and how even one person could help. I saw villages that had turned into a pile of stones and where no roads lead to anymore. People expressed huge gratitude for clothes, money and medical products that we brought with us. I can’t even describe the sensation that we felt when giving school supplies and plush toys to the local school. It was the first time I’d taken part in anything like it.
What did you have to arrange before such a mission? What permits, vaccinations and training did you have to participate in?
I went there as a stand-in and I only found out three weeks before departure, thus I didn’t have much time to arrange things. I only checked that my tetanus vaccination was still valid. A typhoid and hepatitis vaccination would have been handy as well, but I didn’t have time to get those. Our doctor at least prescribed some medicine against mountain sickness and antibiotics in case they were needed. When it comes to training, there’s a group on Facebook where we were informed about everything before our travels and we could ask any questions we had.
Nepal lies on the roof of the world. What places did you manage to visit in this beautiful country?
Our guides prepared a wonderfully rich programme for us so that we had a chance to get to know as many places and people in this beautiful country as possible in the course of a few days. It’s a very diverse country; we saw a hot perilous jungle, beautiful majestic mountains, unbelievably chaotic traffic in cities full of hooting cars, criss-crossing between pedestrians, roads with no road markings where we felt really uneasy, as well as ornate impressive monasteries that were radiant with energy. Everything is so much different than here, it’s really hard to describe. The biggest impression is how different people in Nepal are. They have nothing, yet they smile all the time, they work hard to get by but feel no stress. They usually eat their traditional bhat (rice with lentil sauce with potatoes and spinach) which they shared with us. Strangers invite you to their homes for tea and biscuits even though they don’t have much themselves. They are always ready to help everyone. Kids are happy about little things. One of our guides was a local lama and thanks to that we managed to get to places, especially in the mountains, where regular tourist won’t get to.
You were gone for two weeks. How did you manage to combine it with your customer service job in our German e-shop?
I work in a big and understanding company so it wasn’t a problem to get those two weeks off at such short notice. There are a few of us working for the German team which means my colleagues can do my job for a while.
Are you planning another similar trip? If yes, where and when?
Not at the moment. This trip was a challenge and the impressions that I have are strong and intense. Right now, I’m not thinking about what will come “after Nepal”.