By Laura Rigge
Sue Travis’s trip to Nepal with her husband was an opportunity to see Mt. Everest. “We had taken a helicopter ride to see the Everest base camp and were planning on flying to China to see the Tibetan side,” said Travis, a Slatington resident and Jewish Family Service volunteer. They stopped for a few days in Kathmandu to sightsee and take pictures around the city before leaving Nepal for China.
Travis was on the tarmac at Kathmandu airport when the first earthquake struck. She could see the city below her. “I saw the death cloud,” she said. “It looked like morning fog over the city.”
The plane sat on the tarmac for the next six hours. The airport had shut down almost immediately, and officials scrambled to make sense of what had just occurred. Eventually, Travis made it back to the United States via Chang Du, China, but the experience was harrowing.
“There are places we have pictures of that don’t exist anymore. They were gone the next day,” Travis said.
That same day, Lehigh Valley native Evan McCants-Goldman was in Sundrawoti, a village in southern Nepal, when the earthquake struck. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, McCants-Goldman was volunteering for Tevel b’Tzedak, an Israeli aid organization that has development projects in Nepal and Africa.
Villagers that were already struggling now had to face the arduous task of rebuilding their homes. Tevel b’Tzedak offered volunteers the opportunity to go home after the first earthquake, but McCants-Goldman chose to stay and continue helping the people of Sundrawoti put their lives back together after the devastation of the earthquake, a task made even more difficult by the approaching monsoon season.