Aishwarya Rana on the unbreakable spirit of humanity

When we create our stories each week, one of the most agonizing decisions is what to call people. How do you distill a life—in the case of our storytellers, an otherworldly life—into the three or four words of a title scroll?

When a devastating earthquake hit Nepal a year ago, we were heartbroken. Of all the places we’ve traveled, Nepal has the most treasured place in our heart.

AISHWARYA RANA, who manages programs for our friends at Mercy Corps Nepal, was able to secure an internet connection for us to talk about what she has seen as part of the recovery. And even though we lost our connection with her at a couple of points, it didn’t diminish the power of her story. In listening to Aishwarya, we learn what happens when a person dedicated to humanitarian efforts becomes part of a humanitarian effort herself.

A year after the quake and its aftershocks, Nepal is still recovering from the disaster that killed almost 9,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless and vulnerable. As in many developing countries, the ripple effects of natural disasters are felt for years.

Mercy Corps was one of the first NGOs to respond and lead the recovery efforts. Because they already had a strong presence in the country, they were able to take the lead among international humanitarian organizations and provide direction to peer agencies so that all assistance would be equal in quality and dignity.

In the year since, Mercy Corps has provided emergency kits, temporary shelter and cash to more than 135,000 people. Their cash transfers helped 23,000 families survive and rebuild, and infused $1.7 million into local economies.

When events like this happen so far from us, it’s easy to quickly forget how exposed and dangerous life can become for those struggling to rebuild their lives. But as Aishwarya tells us, Nepal has a spirit that is unbreakable.

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