On May 17, Headwaters volunteers from Minnesota, Washington D.C., Boston and Germany departed for Nepal in response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked this Himalayan country. Organized through our partnerships with Global Rescue Relief & Resilience (GR3) and ACTS World Relief, Headwaters volunteers were specifically requested for the trip because of their experience responding to international disasters, expertise in mental health support, commitment to education, and ability to put together a comprehensive team that includes security personnel.

Also, Nepolina, a woman who grew up in Nepal and came to Alexandria, Virginia for her education, joined the Headwaters’ team. Nepolina was an asset to Headwaters volunteers; she worked alongside of our volunteers and broadened our understanding of the culture of Nepal. We were grateful for her assistance.

After arrival in Katmandu, the team traveled to the town Banepa where they provided training to more than 100 medical personnel at The Scheer Memorial Hospital in mental health support for people who have experienced the trauma of natural disasters; the training program also provides support for first responders. Headwaters also coordinated with Elizabeth Schaffer and her team from the United States and Europe to transition mental health support to ensure continuity after Headwaters left.

Traveling on treacherous mountain roads and stopping at times to clear rubble due to landslides, the team arrived in the village of Jiri, the historical base camp for climbing Mount Everest. Located in a remote area that was largely cut off following the earthquake, Headwaters brought medical supplies to neighboring areas.

Sleeping in hammocks and working with Jiri Hospital’s chief medical officer (the hospital had been damaged), Headwaters volunteers provided children and families of the area mental health support as well as handed out medical supplies, while bringing a bit of of fun and play for children in this severely affected area.

View a photo gallery from the trip here