Since the Nepal earthquake, we have been receiving messages and emails asking about our safety. The messages came with love and prayers for our community here, giving us strength to deal with the impact of the earthquake and outside of that, with other struggles.
Our little town, Dehradun is located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand that borders Nepal in the east and Tibetan Autonomous Region and China in the North. There is a large Tibetan and Nepalese community in Dehradun.
We felt jolts and tremors here when the first earthquake hit Nepal last month and there was no damage to life or property here.
Our artisans have families and friends in Nepal. Karma, our pack-out manager was worried about her family who live in a village at a distance of ‘one and a half days by bus’ from the epicenter of the first big earthquake. Although Karma’s family and their village are safe, the earthquake caused the main bridge in a neighboring village to collapse and they are struggling with shortage of rations.
Our master stitcher, Rangjong also has family in Nepal. His brothers and their families have all been living in a village very close to the epicenter of the first earthquake. Rangjong and his family had escaped from Tibet by walking across the terrain for more than a month and a half, into Nepal. Here, his brothers stayed back while Ranjong travelled onward to India. This was three decades ago and back then; there were no mobile phones or other means of keeping contact with family that stayed back either in Tibet or in Nepal. For the last one year, our master stitcher has been trying to get visa to enter into Tibet to see his family once more. The plan was to first meet relatives in Nepal and then go to Tibet and the earthquake has left him feeling more desperate to know what became of the family.
Another stitcher, Youdon has been worried about her sister who also lives at half a day’s distance from the earthquake epicenter. Like Rangjong, Youdon too has not been in touch with her sister for many years now (her sister does not have a phone) and worries for the family’s safety.
Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Realize that everything connects to everything”. The Nepal earthquake has left an entire country in shock and shambles but they are not alone. Travesties like these remind us that though countries and borders divide us, people are connected everywhere and something that affects people in one part of the world will affect everyone else.