Within 24 hours of the deadly and destructive magnitude 7.8 earthquake that rocked Nepal on April 25, Scientology’s Volunteer Ministers mobilized emergency response teams in the nation’s capital of Kathmandu to assist in combing the rubble for survivors and distributing needed supplies in the ravaged Asian country.
Ten days after the temblor struck, the confirmed death toll has climbed to more than 7,300 while the number of injured exceeds 14,000. Beyond the initial shaker, there have been more than 70 aftershocks—destroying thousands of buildings and leaving much of Nepal in ruins. The United Nations has estimated that the earthquake has impacted 8.1 million people—more than a quarter of Nepal’s population of 28 million.
The Volunteer Ministers encountered a desperate situation when they arrived on the ground.
“There are areas of [Kathmandu] that are like an eerie ghost town. Five-story buildings have been flattened to two, killing anyone inside—and the stench of rotting bodies is hard to swallow, especially when you can’t access them,” wrote one Volunteer Minister in an email from the disaster site. “There are shattered exterior walls threatening to collapse any second on every building.”
Scientology Volunteer Ministers of Nepal established a base camp in central Kathmandu. They have been joined by VMs from the U.S., Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Italy and India. They reported that, despite the grave circumstances, the Nepalese in the capital are resilient and there’s a steady flow of food and water, and the focus is on recovery. Not so in the mountain areas outside the city where many villagers have lost virtually everything including their entire store of food.
There were Volunteer Ministers on each of three teams dispatched by the UN headquarters late last week to search for survivors and bodies in villages near the border of China, four hours from Kathmandu. One group was attached to a Canadian canine unit whose dogs trained to locate bodies by their scent. In addition to carrying out search and rescue they are delivering food and other supplies to the villagers.
Volunteer Minister teams are also visiting nearby hospitals and camps, to provide food and water and “assists,” Scientology techniques that help speed healing, reduce pain, and allay stress in those suffering physical and emotional trauma.
One Volunteer Minister who traveled to Nepal from Taiwan reported the following from the scene: “A person I have just given an assist to—she lost her husband and children. She was just wandering around her house that had collapsed and was understandably very sad. She said she wanted an assist, so I proceeded.” He described that after just a few minutes, the woman was visibly brighter, and felt for the first time since the earthquake she could begin to come to grips with what happened.
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Whether serving in their communities or on the other side of the world, the motto of the Scientology Volunteer Minister is “Something can be done about it.” The program, created in the mid 1970s by L. Ron Hubbard and sponsored by the Church of Scientology International as a religious social service, constitutes one of the world’s largest and most visible international independent relief forces.
The Volunteer Minister “helps his fellow man on a volunteer basis by restoring purpose, truth and spiritual values to the lives of others.”
A global network of Volunteer Ministers mobilizes in times of manmade and natural disasters, answering the call wherever needed. Collaborating with some 1,000 organizations and agencies, they have utilized their skill and experience in providing physical support and spiritual aid at hundreds of disaster sites.