Earthquake Devastates Nepal;
Scientology Volunteer Ministers, and The World, Respond
On April 25, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked the Himalayan nation of Nepal. Within a week, the confirmed death toll exceeded 7,000, with more than 14,000 injured. Eight million people in the region are affected; a million children are in dire need of help.
Charities and nongovernmental organizations from around the world are responding with humanitarian aid—among them Scientology Volunteer Ministers. Within 24 hours, the Church of Scientology mobilized emergency response teams in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu.
The Volunteer Ministers—a multicultural assistance program created by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s—encountered a desperate situation when they arrived on the ground in the quake-ravaged nation.
“Areas of [Kathmandu] 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 Max Rantz-McDonald, a volunteer from the United States, in a dispatch from the disaster site. “There are shattered exterior walls threatening to collapse any second on every building.”
But by six days after the quake, Volunteer Ministers in Nepal—which include doctors, nurses and EMTs from the U.S., Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Italy and India—had established a base camp in central Kathmandu, and reported that, despite the grave circumstances, spirits are high in the Nepalese capital. There’s a steady flow of food and water, and the focus is on recovery.
Rantz-McDonald and his crew are using a pair of aerial drones they carried with them to Nepal to help evaluate and plan for the difficult work ahead. Volunteer Minister teams are also traveling to nearby hospitals and medical camps, to provide first aid and offer ’assists’—a Scientology procedure to allay stress in those suffering physical and emotional trauma.
Mike Savas, a Volunteer Minister from New York, attended a May 1 meeting of relief teams on the ground in Nepal, coordinated by the United Nations, to plan the next phase of the relief effort: Helping to get food, clean water, medical aid and supplies to survivors cut off in remote villages, where landslides and poor weather conditions have hampered the efforts of aid workers. “We’ve joined up with Firefighters Without Borders from Spain and a K-9 team from Canada,” Savas reports, “and are heading four hours east of Kathmandu to villages on the outskirts that no one has been to yet. People are still stuck and sending text messages asking for help.”
As Freedom went to press, more than 100 Volunteer Ministers are in Nepal.
For the latest on the work of the Scientology Nepal Disaster Response Team, see blog.volunteerministers.org.