Former Lodge Chief Reflects on Earthquake

By Michael French

We have all had our fair share of experiences while in the outdoors, but none come close to that of Ian Bellows. While he was in Nepal in April 2015, he experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Bellows, an Eagle Scout and former lodge chief of T’Kope Kwiskwis Lodge in Seattle, had traveled to Nepal in November 2014 for independent research on adventure travel and tourism. When the earthquake struck on April 25th, Bellows was actually in Tingri, Tibet traveling back to the Kathmandu region of Nepal. Regarding the earthquake, Bellows mentions that, “What seemed to be a minor event at the time turned out to be the greatest natural disaster to hit the region in over 80 years, killing over 9,000 people, injuring over 23,000 more, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, and causing irreparable damage to Nepal's rich cultural heritage.”

Nearly a week had passed before Bellows was able to return to Nepal. During this time Nepal had turned into chaos. Thousands of foreigners were evacuated to their home nations and relief workers from all over the globe had poured into the country to assist with relief efforts. Bellows had the opportunity to accompany some of the relief teams on their missions to assist the Nepali people and documented their efforts.

When asked what he will remember most about the earthquake and the relief efforts, Bellows states that, “What I'll remember most are the amazing people I met in the months following the quake. While I was not personally affected, many of my Nepali friends had their educations or livelihoods disrupted and their homes or villages damaged or destroyed.” These amazing people, the mountaineers, volunteers and non governmental organization workers, that Bellows refers to are the ones who stayed behind and arrived to help the people of Nepal after the earthquake struck. They are also the ones who stepped up to help out when the government of Nepal became overwhelmed and the international response could not do meaningful work.

These workers stepped up and worked together with minimal resources and the threat of high personal risk to help restore the lives of the affected Nepali people. As Bellows puts it, “These people embodied the points of the Scout Law - Loyal, Helpful, Kind, and Brave in particular.” Why did Bellows stay behind? To him the answer was simple and was something that he had learned along time ago, “to do my best and to help other people at all times.” The telling of the stories of these amazing people was the least he could do.

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