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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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05.09.15         nepal disaster relief effort  

Nepal Disaster Relief Update #8


Huge distribution today. The Salvation Army team delivered 20,000 lbs of food to our area today in Sindhupalchock. 8 villages and nearly 450 families are happy to have finally gotten some food in what is the logistically most challenging disaster aid situation I've ever worked in. Just know when you donate to those bell ringers at Christmas, these are the kinds of things that money goes towards. Tremendous job well done by many team members, donors and our assessment scouts. Now to get some helicopters.
This is going to be be kinda hard to explain, but I'll try to articulate it the best I can.

When we hiked up into the mountains last week there was a man sleeping right by the path that literally everyone travels on. He was crippled from birth, his legs twisted thin and stiff, almost like a pretzel, a random bad card fate dealt him when he entered this world. He was laying in his own filth and no longer eating or drinking because he didn't want to continue to create more of an inescapable mess. And there he lay, day after day, with literally everyone who lived on the mountain walking past & ignoring him. He hadn't moved an inch in the time we went up until the time we returned a couple days later. Same position. Filthy and starving. Unable to move, properly care for himself and embarrassed out of eating or drinking, despite his hunger.

Even with all the stressful stuff we had going on with assessments, paperwork, food etc. the thought of this man would not leave my mind. I found myself imagining those I love most, thrust into his cruel prison of a body, and realized that such a scenario was not acceptable if he was someone I loved deeply. I absolutely would not tolerate it.

Strangely, I then came to the conclusion that just because I didn't know and love him personally, his position was still equally unacceptable and my unfamiliarity with him shouldn't change how I felt about the need for action because someone out there, alive or dead, at least at some point loved him that much, and if not, then he was even more worthy of it. I think it was after all these kinds of thoughts, I found myself full of compassion for this man.
Upon returning back to Kathmandu, I started thinking about what could be done for this guy. I've never cared for or washed a grown man like this, & it felt beyond my skill set / comfort level, but I also felt like that shouldn't matter, and it was time to man the f up.

I get some smaller donations from women, I call them "Widows mites" like $25 here and there and I try to use all these little donations in the most powerful way possible because they are all these donors can give, which so deep and meaningful to me.

We used one of these little donations, went out and bought a bucket, some soap, a new mat, bed pan and new clothes. The man was a quick hike away from the distribution, about 15 minutes or so. Once the distribution got rolling, I started heading up with 2 other team members and we learned that there was someone who was supposed to take care of him. We tracked the caretaker down and let him know it was not ok to leave this poor man like this.

Long story short, the caretaker, who turned out to be his brother, and I washed this guy right there on the side of the path. I think it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life because I learned something that has changed my heart, and I grew in becoming able to do something I never would have considered. Compassion, it seems, is an incredible tool for good. I feel like if I can tap into that same deep feeling again, I'd be more motivated to serve and make stuff happen. I have lots of room to grow in understanding true compassion. It's an exciting thought to me. I want to improve compassion wise, if that makes any sense.

I'm worried that the man might fall into the same state of neglect, so we are working on something a more long term. Not really sure what the right answer is there. I'll update you when I can when we have a solution in place.

I feel deeply grateful for this experience, and hope that my sharing it with you has given you something positive and meaningful to think about. It was a great day today.

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