Story by Zachary Orr, Assistant News Editor
Two hours into his return to Kathmandu from a remote village in Nepal April 28, Ryan Brooks felt the ground shift beneath his four-wheel drive truck as a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the earth beneath him.
He was experiencing the second largest earthquake to hit Nepal in the last three weeks. The first one, which registered 7.9 on the Richter scale, occurred April 25 and killed an estimated 8,500 people. The first earthquake inspired Brooks, lead missionary for Murray State’s Chi Alpha, to travel with a team for a two week relief project.
The quake Brooks was experiencing killed 48 more and left thousands injured. Brooks was on the side of a mountain four hours northeast of Kathmandu when it hit.
After experiencing dozens of tremors during his stay in Nepal, Brooks said he wasn’t scared for his life, but looking back he understands the danger of the situation he and his teammates were in.
“Maybe I should have been concerned for my safety,” he said.
Murray State alumna Liz Woods was a member of the relief team Brooks took part in. They, alongside members of the Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville, Ky., spent the last two weeks aiding Nepalese citizens, trying to put their lives back together as much as possible.
Brooks said it was a surreal experience to see the devastation in person.
“The camera never cuts away when you’re here,” he said. “Those 8,500 people have faces and stories and families.”
The team spent most of its time in villages trying to provide personalized aid on an individual level, unlike the broad support provided by the larger relief agencies. Brooks said the team has spent days searching the wreckage to find people’s valued possessions and livestock.
Although the members of the team came to Nepal with the intent to give, the Nepalese people have welcomed them to their country as guests. He said the team has been invited into someone’s home, or what was left of it, for almost every meal.
“They had nothing before the earthquake,” Brooks said. “Post earthquake they are having us into their homes and giving us whatever food they have.”
Brooks said he encourages everyone to give what they can to relief efforts, but to be careful what organizations are taking the money. Brooks talked to many Nepalese citizens who fear any funds given to the Nepalese government will be misused.
More than any other aid, Brooks said the people of Nepal’s largest need is hope.
“When you stand on top of your home, and it’s just a pile of rock, it can be very easy to grieve,” he said. “You have to move out of grief and into hope for the future.”