Surviving Nepal's earthquake, a first hand account

Several lodges and houses were damaged but luckily the resident dogs and yaks are faring well.As a member of IFAW's Disaster response team for almost a decade now, I've been fortunate to help animals and people in need in the aftermath of the world's biggest disasters like the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China or the one in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2010.

The work is incredibly fulfilling but taking time off from work that is often intense and stressful is the only way to avoid a burnout.

This is why, a few days ago I embarked on a journey my wife and I had on our bucket-list, a two and a half week-long trek in the Himalayas, destination Everest Base Camp.

Last Saturday, April 25th, we reached the top of a mountain after a 4 and a half hour hike and as we glanced up to see the famous monastery in Tengboche, the ground started shaking violently and before our own eyes, the monastery and surrounding buildings began to collapse.

This time I didn't have to go to the disaster, it came to me.

There is no experience more humbling than feeling the ground shake under your feet. Thanks to a Swedish climber's satellite phone we quickly learned of the magnitude of the quake and the devastating tragedies that unfolded in Kathmandu as well as in Everest and the Khumbu valley.

During this week of mourning, access to the outside world has been nearly impossible. Helicopters buzz by above us non-stop evacuating the injured to the nearest hospital.

This morning we left Everest Base Camp and I was finally able to hear from home and learn that my IFAW team is on the way.

In the short two days I had in Kathmandu before flying to the Everest region, I remember seeing countless street dogs and cattle leisurely walking on the roads.

No doubt many animals have been affected by this disaster.

As I write this I'm in a tiny village called Lobuche. Several lodges and houses were damaged, but luckily the resident dogs and yaks are faring well. Thanks to a couple of sunny days, the solar-powered antenna is able to send my message out.

I'm 4 days walking from Lukla, the nearest airport, but I will push my tired legs back down and join the team in Kathmandu. Yes, a shorter vacation than expected but I'd never pass up the chance to help animals in need.

--MB

Your continued support makes our rescue work possible. On behalf of Nepalese humans and animals alike, thank you.

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