When I think about the chance encounters I've had in my travels, dominoes come to mind. Every effect has its cause, sometimes stretching back for weeks, years, or (in this case) eons. It's as if time itself conspires, wilfully, to set up the cascade that tumbles us into the present moment, as if no encounter truly happens by chance.
The domino metaphor is uniquely appropriate in this story. It's set in Nepal, my second home since 1979, and to where I'd return as a visitor or resident almost every year for the next three decades. But on 25 April 2015, at 11:56 am, two plates of the Earth's crust shifted slightly.
Their movement caused a deadly earthquake that toppled buildings, levelled ancient temples, triggered horrific landslides and sent houses - especially in Nepal's Sindhupalchowk district - cascading down hillsides. More than 8,800 Nepalis were killed, and hundreds of thousands made homeless.
Given my long connection to the place, it is not surprising that I felt the tremors in my own core when the massive earthquake struck. Part of me wanted to fly immediately to Kathmandu and do whatever I could. But I knew, having worked in disaster zones before, that without a clear and essential role, I'd just be a nuisance.
So six months later, I travelled to Nepal with a purpose: to visit some of the more successful relief efforts and report on the country's recovery. I knew I'd see people whose lives had been devastated, but planned to remain objective. And I did a pretty good job at it - until I visited Camp Hope, and met a 10-year-old girl from Sindhupalchowk.
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