Hopelessness and faith for Nepalese in Provo

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Michelle McIntosh and her biological parents.
Michelle McIntosh and her biological parents.

Not knowing whether one’s family is dead or alive is a daunting feeling, and it is the current norm in Nepal.

A 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25, displacing tens of thousands. The death toll is currently estimated to be more than 5,500 but is projected to reach 15,000.

Michelle McIntosh was raised in Nepalese orphanages. She was adopted when she was 11 and has lived in the United States for the last 10 years. Due to the earthquake, many Nepalese have been worried about their distant families. “The telephones don’t work,” Mcintosh said. “There is no way of knowing.”

Not knowing. That is what is the most difficult to deal with, according to McIntosh. She has been able to reconnect with her biological parents later in her life but has not kept in contact with them. Luckily, McIntosh has spoken with the director of the orphanage that helped her get adopted, who has tried reassuring her about them.

The Sagarmatha Children Home director in Bhaktapur was able to tell McIntosh that everyone was okay, promising to find out what happened to her parents.

According to McIntosh, Nepal is a developing nation to begin with, and the earthquake will only make life for people in Nepal even harder. She and the other children in the orphanage were only fed if there were food donations given to the orphanage. While times were hard, the people always cared for others’ needs. But with the earthquake, food shortages will be much worse.

Kalpana Ghimire lived in Chitwan, Nepal, more than 75 miles west of Kathmandu. She spent 12 years of primary school in Chitwan and then studied at Kathmandu University. She then spent five years in China studying medicine and currently works in a candy store in University Mall.

“We study the same book,” Ghimire said. “We study the same medicine, but it takes two years to pass the state exam and three years of residency. So, it will be a long process.” She hopes to continue her practice of medicine once she completes her certifications.

Kalpana Ghimire and her mother, father and older brother.
Kalpana Ghimire and her mother, father and older brother.

Ghimire has spoken with her mother and father in Nepal. They affirm that their family is safe, but Ghimire feels that her parents are not telling her everything. She does know that her aunt’s home, which is also in Bhaktapur, was completely destroyed. “I’m all by myself. My family is still in Nepal,” she said.

She has been able to get information from different media sources, but the information has only heightened her feelings of hopelessness. “I’m here, and I’m a doctor,” Ghimire said. “I wish I was there, because they need help in a time like this, and I’m here working in the candy store. There is nothing I can do about it.”

Ghimire was baptized the Saturday after the quake. She has relied on her faith to strengthen her. She explained that the outreach of support has been overwhelming. “Every time I pray it gives me relief that he is there looking after everyone,” Ghimire said. “Praying helps. Knowing that he is looking after us helps.”

Ghimire and McIntosh want everyone to know that Nepal needs all the help anyone can give. Food, water and medicine are what is most needed, according to their associates in Nepal.

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