Headwaters Brings Psychological Expertise to Nepal

In spite of minor earthquakes and challenging mountain terrain, Headwaters volunteers made an impact during their February 2016 relief trip to Nepal, responding to the need to help this nation recover following major earthquakes that caused widespread damage a year ago.

This was the second trip for Headwaters to this remote country where isolated villages still struggle to rebuild. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, Headwaters team members presented a workshop for 20 nurses at Sheer Memorial Hospital on psychological first aid and compassion fatigue, a stress condition that can affect those caring for victims of disasters. Sheer Memorial Hospital hosted the Headwaters team when they were first responders to the disaster in partnership with the GR3.

Volunteers then traveled to Melamchi in the Sindupalchok District where they were hosted by All Hands Volunteers, a U.S.-based nonprofit devoted to long-term rebuilding and recovery. A central goal of this relief mission was to provide education for children and their caregivers who need help to recover and regain a sense of safety and normalcy following the trauma of last year’s devastation.

Creating a tool to achieve this, Headwaters volunteers wrote and illustrated a children’s book titled Nepal Quake that explains what an earthquake is and how it can affect children, family, and community. The book was read to children in several schools and an orphanage. And, because the book has been donated to classrooms with an accompanying teacher’s guide, many hundreds of children will be reached and supported in the future.

Not surprisingly, in a country that experiences on average two earthquakes a month, during a presentation of Nepal Quake, an actual 4.7 tremor occurred. “I suddenly heard the tin roof of the school banging then the ground began to shake,” says volunteer Kari Reinhart. “The children were clearly terrified. Even though many of appeared to know what to do, it was still a time when our help gave the children much-needed reassurance.”

In addition to working with the schools, in support of All Hands, Headwaters’ volunteer cleared debris and helped to lay foundations for new outdoor toilets. Headwaters mental health volunteers also provided specialized training for All Hands volunteers in psychological first aid.

Many thanks to All Hands for their support and guidance and to all of our Headwaters volunteers for their amazing and generous commitment to the people of Nepal.