Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon paid tribute to the victims of Nepal’s earthquake victims at a special observation of Vesak, an international day honoring Buddha’s life and teaching.
“I hope that the Nepalese people observing this holiday amid the rubble are able to take some measure of comfort from its message of human solidarity,” he said. “The Lord Buddha’s observation that all peoples are interconnected reminds us of the importance of uniting as one human family resolved to address our shared struggles based on common values.” Nepal played a pivotal role in getting the day recognized by the United Nations in 1999.
In trying times of conflict and natural disasters, the human spirit can be challenged and pushed to its limits. But through these challenges we are also able to witness the power of the human spirit and reconfirm that we are indeed connected as one family.
Inspiring examples like the #RiseNepal volunteers bravely and selflessly rolling up their sleeves to rebuild their nation have emerged out of the devastation of the April 25th earthquake. Their efforts and the support coming from all over the world, affirm a truth that faith traditions around the world, including Buddhism, articulate –that we are bound together as one human family, and when we come together, we can find solutions.
I remember seeing a photo of a 4 month old infant being pulled out of the debris that surfaced just days after the first earthquake. The smiles on the recue workers’ faces and the smile that dawned on my own face when I read the story was visceral proof that we are held together by our common humanity.
Such moments remind us of our connectedness through shared values and fundamental human experiences. We don’t need a common language, nationality, or even religion to share in these moments, we just naturally respond. We are moved by actions that acknowledge the preciousness of each life, and we are inspired when we witness individuals banding together beyond everyday common interests to serve the greater good.
Even in desperate situations, such moments illustrate humanity’s power and resilience. They give us a glimpse of the noble qualities we possess and affirm that we are One Family under God. In the hours of greatest need when the future is uncertain, faith in these certainties give us hope and forge deeper connections one another.
A little more than a month after the first major earthquake hit Nepal in April, there are signs of recovery. On Sunday, schools officially reopened, many in makeshift classrooms. In child friendly centers in and around Kathmandu, laughter can be heard. Local and international volunteers continue to work side by side with local residents, government workers, international relief agents, and the military to clear the rubble and rebuild. Despite the physical and psychological trauma, slowly, the nation is moving forward.
There are still challenges. Many families remain homeless, relying on aid for basics like food, water and medical attention. With monsoon season expected to come any day, there is also a desperate need for shelter. And the fear of continued aftershocks still lingers.
But, we are committed to work together, both on the ground and abroad, acknowledging that we share our struggles and victories. And that we shared the conviction that Nepal will rise brighter and stronger than ever before.
#RiseNepal, a volunteer effort supported by the Global Peace Foundation and other members of the Asia Pacific Peace and Development Alliance, has launched the "Shelter of Hope" campaign to provide 1,000 shelters for displaced families in Nepal before monsoon season. $120 purchases materials for 1 shelter. Donate today.