Angels in Nepal: One Year After the Earthquakes

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-1

Peering out the makeshift door of her corrugated metal shelter, Parathi lets the warm, soft rays of the sun tangle up around her welcoming in another day.

A gentle breeze rocks the entranceway of their shelter providing a soft melody for her two autistic children sleeping peacefully behind her. The few minutes of silence brings a smile along with a chance to relax before the chaos of a new day begins.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-2

She picks up her broom and quickly begins tidying up their simple shelter with a touch of longing for their old home they had just one year ago.

One year ago…devastating earthquakes rocked Nepal, the first on April 25th and the second on May 12th with tremors shaking the tenuous foundation of life for the Nepalese people.

The destruction was catastrophic: 9,000 people died, 600,000 homes destroyed, and damage estimated at $10 billion. To add insult to such devastation, over the past year political infighting has frozen $4.1 billion in emergency aid funds.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-3

Nepal now finds itself paralyzed with one natural disaster (the earthquake) feeding into another manmade disaster (political pettiness), creating dangerous aftereffects such as human trafficking, disease, deteriorating health, debt and a faltering educational system set to further cripple the country.

Amid the chaos, however, there has been one constant: organizations who have stepped in to support communities. To rebuild. To give hope. To provide an opportunity for a future.

An incredible thing to witness and Save the Children has stepped up in Nepal.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-4

The light of the morning is just as I imagined it would be ~ the first rays of the sun stretching out over the city, giving off a magical hue. Off to the northeast, the sunrise sparkles off the snow-capped Himalaya mountain range welcoming in a new day.

A breathless start to the morning, and in this dreamlike state I let my imagination run wild here in Kathmandu.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-5

Nepal’s rich history has been fueled by imagination, from explorers to philosophers pulled in by the natural scenery. All one needs to understand this feeling is to look into the powerful eyes of its people.

Strength. Curiosity. A spirituality seeking the greatness in a day.

From Sherpas attacking the slopes of the Himalayas to the children playing in the fields, every day is a reminder of their home, a slice of heaven on earth. Even with the tragedy of the past year, the Nepalese keep moving forward.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-6

The morning sun flows through the room, its rays mixing with the youthful laughter and smiles ~ students sit mesmerized by the sight of a beautiful stranger in their midst.   Giggles are hard to stifle as they listen to this ‘Angel from Hong Kong’ sharing pieces of a life so foreign yet so wonderful.

The glimmer in their eyes shows the admiration, inspiration, and appreciation for those who step forward offering an opportunity where before there was none.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-7

Mrs. Cathy Chui Lee (徐子淇) is the first Asian patron of Save the Children, joining three other Princesses: Princess Anne in the UK, Princess Viktoria in the Netherlands, and Princess Basma in Jordan: their quest to provide safety and opportunity to children around the world to reach their potential.

This is especially true for those most marginalized, deprived and facing a humanitarian crisis.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-8

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-9

The shattered buildings we see as we weave our way through the historic Durbar Square in Bhaktapur is unsettling, reflecting the shattered lives of those in the area.

The beauty of the place shows off a rich heritage. Elegant architecture surrounds our every step, punctuating the culture of the Nepalese. Yet there is a reminder. Every dozen meters there is a jarring jolt of destruction left by the powerful quake and the sad reality of the work still to be done.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-10

Cathy’s visit to these devastated areas of Nepal allows her to see first hand the difference aid organizations make in the lives of children and their families.

The visit also gives Cathy the opportunity to directly engage with the children, offering the value of both her donation and time to bring sunshine into a difficult period of their lives.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-11

Of all the incredible moments I have seen, the most beautiful sight of the day is the excitement in the eyes of the children being matched by the wonder and sincerity in the eyes of Cathy.

Her ease with the children makes it clear, as much as Cathy inspires the children – she draws even more strength and inspiration from them.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-12

The day has been full of emotions. From the excitement in the laughter and words of the children to understanding the difficult road ahead for the people of Nepal, bringing to mind an old Nepalese proverb, one often used around the world as well:

खाने मुखलाई जुंगाले छेक्दैन    ~ Where there is a will, there is a way ~

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-13

The melody and rhythm of traditional Nepalese folk songs float through the small classroom and Amy Fong, CEO of Save the Children Hong Kong, blends right in singing along with her new-found friends.

“We are very honored and excited to have Cathy Lee as our patron. We admire her compassion for children and her willingness to actively make a difference in their lives.” Amy mentions this as we watch the students draw the Nepalese flag on Cathy’s hand, a souvenir for her to take back to Hong Kong.

“There is still so much to do, and rising to the challenge is where we will make the greatest difference…” and I could not agree more.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-14

The sun, beginning its descent into another night, pauses ever so slightly on the horizon sensing a special moment: the coming together of two uniquely wonderful angels here in Nepal.

On our last stop of the day, there is a surreal feeling as we watch spellbound as Parathi and Cathy sit outside the shelter and talk of the daily hardship.

While Parathi is still stuck in a temporary shelter and lacking income, there is no sign of distress or worry. Instead, her strength and integrity shine through when she speaks of the future she can create for her children and how Save the Children has helped make this possible.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-15

Cathy softly holds Parathi as they connect on a level I imagine only two mothers can. An intense amount of empathy and respect for each other is apparent, and I sit back amazed at how two people so far apart in terms of material wealth can almost be mirror images of each other when it comes to strength of character.

Is there something in the air of Nepal?

It is hard not to shed a tear at the wisp of magic traveling upon the breeze this evening, proof of how powerfully connected we all are to each other.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-16

I pack up my equipment and think back to the words silently whispered by the Angel in Nepal as she was overcome with emotion after the meeting, “Such a strong and brave woman, I admire her so much…”

The admiration I have for her and the Save the Children organization is great, and I could not imagine a better pairing of souls.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-17

The experience today had a bit of everything. The hope on the children’s faces often stood in stark contrast to the concerns of the older generation.

The one constant being the appreciation for organizations such as Save the Children.  Organizations who go the extra step to ensure the quickest response time when it comes to helping children around the world.

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-18

With the evening drawing to a close, I take my coffee to the rooftop of the hotel and look over Kathmandu. The city is teeming with life. The prayer flags scattered throughout the city are dancing in the evening breeze in sync with the spirit of the people of Nepal, understanding the road ahead:

आफ्नो भाग्य आफैले बनाउनु पर्छ!   ~ We ourselves have to create our own destiny ~

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-19

The smiles and the laughter of this trip are strong reminders of the need to help the most vulnerable and most important resource on earth: the children.

The empathy and grace Cathy carried on her visit to Nepal highlighted her support of the Children’s Emergency Fund: a fund to ensure quick response to children around the world.

The importance of continued support and giving being the key to bringing hope, and if you are interested, more information can be found at the below sites:

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-20

An Angel in Nepal ~ One Year on from the Nepal Earthquakes, Kathmandu - Save the Children Hong Kong-21

240 Comments on “Angels in Nepal: One Year After the Earthquakes

  1. Yes, well done Randall. Thank you for sharing the positive work of Save the Children.

    • Thank you, John, it was inspiring to see all the positive work being done ~ and of course the kids who benefiting. Wish you a great weekend ahead.

  2. This is a beautiful piece of writing, and your pictures are simply brilliant. Those smiles, I love them.

    • Aren’t those smiles amazing ~ it is hard not to feel great about life when seeing them. Thank you very much Greta, and hope that all is going well.

  3. Fantastic post, Randall! Your photography is never less than brilliant. Great to see the children’s smiles persevere through the tragedy and know that organizations like Save the Children are truly making a difference.

    • Thank you, Kelly, it seems there is one thing in this world that can make any photograph glow, and that is a smile from a child 🙂 And in Nepal, they were there in abundance. It was really pretty cool to be around all these people who are doing such impressive work and making such a difference. Great to see. Wishing you a great weekend ahead.

      • Thanks! Same to you — enjoy the weekend. Wish I could teleport to HK. I miss Asia so much. Have some noodles or dumplings for me. 🙂

      • My guess is you’ll be back out here soon enough ~ once Asia has you, it’ll never let you be 🙂 Will gladly have a dish or two of dumplings for you out here!

  4. Randall, I’m so glad you’ve shared about the good works of Save the Children through your moving images and writing. Much tragedy but your photographs show hope in the eyes of the people. Thanks for this wonderful post.

    • Thank you, Jane, if there was one thing in abundance in Nepal, especially in the eyes of the children it was hope. A trip I hope to make every year, and there is so much beauty in this country.

  5. You captured the love and determination on the angels’ faces and the hope on the Nepali’s. I appreciate how you’re using your platform and your art to raise awareness of needs, R.

    • It is always something special to see people facing adversity with such strength, and it made me admire the people of Nepal that much more ~ a great trip, and it felt good to write about the day. Wishing you well D.

  6. Inspiration at its best Randall, what a great cause, so much hardship. Lovely to see the children smiling with a little hope in their hearts. It must be so hard for you to witness the worlds struggles through the camera lens but as always you bring awareness, hope and inspire us all to change the world around us any way we can.

    • There is always a thought I have when I see such struggles, and while much of it is empathy in terms of the hardship they are going through, I admire their spirit ~ a true sense of happiness in their smiles and laughter. They may have so little, but what they do have is special and it is inspiring. Thank you Kath, I like the idea you have of changing the world any way we can, nothing more worthwhile. Cheers to a great day.

  7. I dont know how you do this work, sometimes. It must be so hard to see their suffering and hardship, and yet just look at those beautiful little faces and genuine happy smiles. The best and the worst. Wonderful pictures and great writing, and lots of food for thought, as always.

    • That is it Ali, their beautiful faces and genuine happy smiles ~ as you know, there is nothing quite like seeing such smiles to wash away any of the sadness. Inspirational smiles. I like how you say it, the best and the worst. I could not imagine life being turned upside down as it has been for these people. Thank you very much, wish you well.

  8. Wonderful to see the Angels in Nepal and great to see a lot of smiling faces, despite what’s happened. Hope to visit the region one day.

    • Angels in Nepal they were, and when you come for a visit I think you would find yourself extending your stay ~ so much to experience and it makes it very hard to leave. Thank you, Simon.

  9. Randall, your photos truly bring us in touch with the many faces of Nepal, showing lives of hardship, but people who persevere with indomitable spirit. A beautiful post, thank you.

  10. Incredibly beautiful
    Nepal people with their story. I can actually read how their lives with nature through your photo shot
    Believe it or not, they live with nature along with those circumstances; earthquake, flood and people issues.
    As each day reading their news, I’m really sad, hope human organization can ease their grief.
    Anyway, I admire your photos collection, they are really amazing! Wish you a great weekend ahead. Thank you so much Randy. Regards!

    • It is amazing how much nature is a part of their lives ~ a country with many natural resources, the Himalayas, and an incredible culture… Nepal should be quite wealthy and developed, but it is the same old story heard around the world: politics and government. However, in talking with the Nepalese it seems not much can get them down – their outlook on life is amazing, everywhere I’ve gone in the world, they have electric smiles. Thank you Della Anna, wish you a great weekend ahead.

  11. Your great pictures emphasize the story of those angels in Nepal. Beautiful.
    As a traveler, I already visited Nepal twice, and I always admire the sincere smile and hospitalities of Nepalis. They’re one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And in the time after the quake, I think they deserve to be embraced by our care and pray. I hope Nepal get recover soon.

    Thanks for share Randall, it’s a great post.

    • You say it well, the sincerity and hospitality of the Nepali especially when in difficult times this past year is really something to see and experience ~ such an amazing place with its history and beauty. The rebuilding process will be a slow one, but the people and organizations from around the world assisting in key areas will work with them to make sure it is done. Just wish the government put a bit more urgency in getting things moving. Very cool that you’ve been there a couple of times ~ such a great place, and wish you a great week ahead.

      • Indeed, their patience in their difficult times are so inspiring.

        Thank you and have a great week for you too Randall 🙂

  12. Your magical photos of the hope and wonder in these children’s eyes tells the story of taking one day at the time, always patiently hoping the next day will be better than the previous one. It is wonderful that we have organizations like Save the Children stepping up for these and other children going through hard times. For the last six months I’ve been involved in work on refugee issues – those children’s eyes have the same hope of a better tomorrow.

    • I like the way you put it: “patiently hoping the next day will be better than the previous one.” The refugee issue you are working on has the same feeling ~ a lot of hope, for without it there is just despair. Must be difficult to see and work through, but seeing these organizations stepping up and providing for these people and especially children, is inspiring. Thank you very much Tiny and wish you great success with your work ~ take care.

    • Thank you, Josephine, been working with STC for a few years ~ a great group of people, made even greater with the work they do.

  13. What an inspiring post, Randall, love the photos of all the resilience and smiles of the Nepalese people,
    Thanks for sharing, keep it up,

    • The resiliency of the Nepalese people is something to see and experience ~ thank you, Ron. Wishing you a great start to the summer.

  14. Such gorgeous smiles and as always, amazing captures Randall. Your story shows us that with hope and love, everyone can carry on, no matter what the circumstances. ♥

    • The situation here is less than ideal, but just as you say ~ people can carry one finding the greatness of life no matter what the circumstances. Thank you Sophia.

      • That is so true Randall. No matter what, we just keep going. 😀

  15. What a beautiful gallery of smiles Randall! The warmth and hope in those faces is deeply moving. Thank you for sharing the details of the good work being done by Save the Children. Truly inspiring.

    • There is nothing quite like a gallery of smiles to make a day a great one 🙂 The kids here in Nepal were incredible. Thank you, Madhu.

  16. Such an inspiring post, Randall. Nepal is a tested country, but the last earthquakes was really devastating. Good to see that things are getting better, if only slowly, but at least that there is hope and smiles back again. As always your photos are of another world. Gorgeous.

    • Thank you, Otto, Nepal has been put to the test quite often but it seems to have only strengthened the spirit and culture. The smiles and hospitality throughout this trip were something I’ll always remember ~ and will be a great reason to return.

    • Hey there, yes ~ a look at all their faces and it is easy to believe there are Angels here on Earth. Great smiles, a photographer’s dream. Wishing you a great week ahead.

      • “…a photogrpaher’s dream…” a very apt description for each of your posts I think. Have a beautiful weekend… Happy late Thrsday and early Friday to you ~

  17. Creating and heightening awareness, a skill and a gift that you share so well. We and those who embrace and illuminate hope *will* conquer natural and emotional challenges. You are certainly leading the way, Randy. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Eric. The number of people around the world that create awareness for important issues will always be a group of people I will admire and be inspired from. In a sense they all make the world a bit smaller in the sense of creating a community. Wish you a great summer ahead.

  18. Beautiful photographs as usual, and an amazing article!! I really liked the Nepalese proverb- “We ourselves have to create our own destiny”. An inspiring post!!
    Regards, Chaitanya Haram 🙂

    • This proverb holds a lot of strength to those who believe it ~ that is why I like it and I think why Nepal, even with all the issues it now faces now, is moving forward boldly. Thank you Chaitanya.

  19. impressive, interesting and excellent – as usually… 🙂 thankful and glad you’ve dropped by my humble playground… take care and good luck in all your endeavours, my very best and friendly thoughts, cheers! 🙂

  20. Stopping by and couldn’t have picked a better post! The children are luminous and beautiful. I just saw a documentary on Nepal – it seems the goal of the country is to be happy. What a wonderful goal and thank you so much for this update. Spectacular photos and insight.

    • Thank you, Noelle, you’ve captured the essence of Nepal here ~ the people of the country are suffering through many issues, but you’ll never catch them without a smile on their face…

  21. We can only hope government officials wake up and get their priorities straight. The greater tragedy is always when egos ignore emergency. Great piece, Randall and exquisite pictures as always. Well done.

      • Interestingly, I got to watch and photograph a Nepalese celebration this weekend outdoors in the park. Very nice.

  22. A very encouraging post, Randall, and wonderful photographs. Those beautiful faces. I’m so glad for organisations like Save the Children.

    • Thank you, Cathy. Agree, these organizations really to answer the call when times get tough.

  23. Many other people have commented on it already, but you captured the smiles of the children very well. I wasn’t very sure who the lady in the photographs was outside of her role as a patron of Save the Children, so at first I didn’t quite get your point about “extremes of wealth.” It wasn’t until I Googled the name and found out that Cathy Chui Lee was a former Hong Kong actress who married a billionaire that I realized quite how wealthy and famous she is. I hope she can use her clout to do some good.

    • The smiles of the children really made the visit something special ~ actually the smile of all the Nepalese, I think as a group they may have the best smiles of any nation 😬 Bun, yes I too was pretty impressed by the family of Cathy Chui Lee ~ and she is such a down to earth person that it still surprises me in a very good way. A great ambassador for Hong Kong and for Save the Children.

  24. Beautiful portraits. I envy you, because you travel so much and can do so great photos. Have an nice day! bilere

    • It is nice when I am able to get out and travel ~ and meeting great people, great cultures. Something I am always grateful for. Thank you, Bilere. Enjoy the day ahead.

  25. Very nice and uplifting photos. Isn’t it interesting how ‘disadvantaged’ people are always smiling? I have been there and realized that there is more to life than problems. The children are so beautiful and made me smile. Thanks for brightening my day.

    • It never amazing me how those closest to life (the living, making the best of life and a connectedness to Earth) are the one who have the biggest smiles. These are the people who are always looking for the good & happiness in life, and thus often find it. Such “disadvantaged” people are often the best teachers…the ones who get the very best out of life. Thank you and wish you a great week.

  26. If I were into awards, which I am not, I would absolutely nominate you for the most moving blog! You run the gamut of emotion from A to Z and back again. Stunning!

    • Léa, a wonderful comment and thank you very much. The emotions of Nepal are ones I wish I could relive every day…such a great culture and smiles. I hope your summer is going well ~ take care.

      • Randall, that sounds much like the feelings that Vietnam inspired in me. If so, you are most fortunate as I believe many people live their whole lives without knowing such passion. Kindest regards, Léa

  27. Those beautiful faces bring out so much …. so much I can’t even name what.
    I have a great, great friend and co-worker here in Japan. He made my work transition here in Japan so much easier. I had awful adversities when I got here, and I am so glad he’s here. He has great values in life, great attitude, great life perspective… just a great person. What I’m saying is that you give these less fortunate something, an opportunity, they could be the greatest, most humble and kindest people that people with means could ever meet.

    • Rommel, isn’t it something to see such beautiful smiles from the kids ~ can’t help but feel great all day. There is something special about the Nepalese around the world. First being I think they have the best smiles of anyone, and then as you say they seem to “get” life more than others ~ they find the happiness and good in any situation and will help you see it too. Great story about your Nepalese friend/co-worker in Japan, I could not agree with you more. Cheers and safe travels my friend.

  28. Very good post and photos as usual. It’s nice to see Nepal being highlighted and the good work being done by Save the Children. I hope reconstruction can progress well and help the Nepalese get back on their feet.

    • Where ever politics finds itself, there are always issues and inefficiencies ~ but I think in Nepal, the NGOs there are really doing something behind the scenes that is paying off. It was great to see.

  29. What a great report Randall ………… what a fantastic job. You make the chrildren laugh, you have a talent, which no many have. A big compliment to your world work !

    • To hear real laughter from children cannot help but bring a smile ~ and these kids in Nepal were something else. I’m hoping to return later this year ~ Thank you, Limineria, wishing you a great summer ahead!

  30. Another great photo-story full of emotions and hope. It’s very interesting to see how the country manage to cope after the earthquake

    • Thank you ~ they will have another winter in temporary shelter due to delays in the government, but the communities sure have pulled together. Great to see.

  31. Beautiful post 🙂 Thank you for sharing it.

  32. Love all these portraits, Randall! You have a wonderful way of capturing people that is so authentic and real — so good!

    • Yes indeed, something very special ~ makes me believe there is a lot of good in this world. Cheers Elmer to a great week ahead.

  33. To capture the brilliance of the central or focal face in each picture is breathtaking…but you then go on to capture a thousand emotions (all suffused with hope) in every face in each picture including those deliberately partially out of focus. An amazing set technically and an even more amazing set emotionally.

    • Thank you very much Simon, you touch on something special with these shots: the shallow depth of field. The lens I used, a Canon 85mm f/1.2 should get most of the credit, as it is the perfect lens for me in such a setting. A great piece of glass, but not always the easiest to use in the field. The faces and smiles of these children, however, is where the real talent is ~ they simply make the world a better place.

    • Thank you Charlotte ~ traveling and working like a fool these past few months, but now catching my breath in Seattle 🙂 Wishing you a great summer, which I am sure you are having…

  34. A truly inspiring work, Dalo…

    Great to see the amazing work being done by the angels of ‘save the children’ and the whole team.

    We can proudly say that, we did our best by all means to help our neighbor at the time of disaster.

    But, how much follow up activities we undertook, I really doubt.

    I think that’s where organisations like ‘save the children’ are playing a very commendable role.

    The smiles of these kids and people like ‘Parathi’ teaches quite some lessons about life, I feel.

    So hard to comment on the images you shared here, but let me tell you, I really wish it reaches a much wider audience…

    Because they are super effective in conveying the message.

    Thank you so much for this great post and hope you are doing great 🙂

    • Sreejith, thank you very much for the thoughtful comment. I am with you as well, it seems that everywhere in the world are people like Parathi and the smiles of these kids that can teach us so much about the beauty of life. To slow down and really find out what is important for us (and what you’ve done as well stepping away from the ‘rat race’ of a big city). It is commendable, and for select NGOs to focus on making the lives of children a bit better ~ nothing can be a greater commitment. Wishing you great happiness my friend and a great summer ahead. Cheers.

  35. Beautiful photos of the children…. thank goodness for the Save the Children organization stepping in to help.

  36. Thank you, it’s nice reading about the good work Save the Children does. It’s refreshing to hear positive news. Beautiful pics too.

    • While there is so much going on around the world, it surprising me sometimes that there is not more focus on taking care of the children around the world…while sounding cliche, they really are our future. StC do a good job of bringing focus to areas that need help. Thank you and wish you a great weekend!

  37. Important message and post – great what they have done to rebuild the nation after the disaster! Thank you for sharing your wonderful images and beautiful work by this INGO 🙂

    • Thank you Indah, it is something to see the world of an INGO make such a difference. Then look at the kids and their smiles, and there is not a better place I’d rather be.

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