Japan was really a bust for my first deployment with the GRRT. It was nice to get into Singapore and spend some time with Brendan but I was looking forward to heading to the Nepal RDMT. Since the sponsorship office in Japan took the bulk of the response, there was not a lot to do for us in Singapore as mentioned.
On March 23 in the morning I departed Singapore for Kathmandu via Bangkok. I arrived in Kathmandu shortly before 1300 and met some other GRRT members waiting in the arrivals hall. Of note, I met Andrew who was the Program Coordination Manager for the team and Mike who was one of our Logistic and Supply Chain Managers.
Once we were all in the van at the airport, we made our way to the hotel. For the life of me, I do not recall the name of the hotel, but I know it was destroyed during the earthquake of 2015. I do remember the jewelry shops in the hotel, and there were many beautiful pieces.
Nepal traffic was definitely something I had not experienced before. I had thought that traffic in Haiti and Costa Rica were bad, but here…unreal. One would stop at a red light and within seconds a thousand motorcycles would pass and pause at the intersection.
The RDMT focus is around training the RDMT members to conduct emergency simulation exercises within their own countries. These simulation are not like the HEAT or SRMT that World Vision offers. Here we were taking the opportunity within this to test WV Nepal’s emergency management systems. To do this, we lead the RDMT members in the running of an actual SimEx.
As such, there is no specific security training component within the exercise. However, security is a critical component of responses and we teach how to develop injects to test security issues. The scenario for this SimEx was around a major earthquake hitting the Kathmandu valley. This would actually become of a benefit for Nepal come 2015.
My role was to help in advance by sharing any ideas on events/injects I had on this from my previous experience. Earthquakes and natural disasters had become my specialty following my experiences in Haiti.
Over the course of the training, the following security events were injected to see how the team responded.
This was far from a conventional workshop – much of it was hands-on practical learning. So I was prepared for the unexpected! Some of the projects involved the local authorities as well, meaning trips outside of the simulation. One such trip was to NSET, the Community Earthquake Learning Center. I actually learned quite a bit from here that would be put to use a little later in my time with World Vision.
Outside of the simulation, we did get to enjoy much of what Kathmandu and Nepal had to offer. During breaks we would walk around our neighborhood. There was a North Face store not far from the office and here I purchased a few North Face duffle bags. Seems I was not the only one who liked to purchase as much of the team did as well.
Himalayan Mountain Biking
During the weekend of March 26, we had decided we decided we would rent some mountain bikes and ride the Himalayans. The day started early as we took a car to the bike rental place. Here, they loaded our bikes onto a van and drove us far into the mountains. The ride would be from where they dropped us off back to the rental place in Kathmandu, some 50km.
In reality, it was more of a coast, as it was downhill most of the way. Our guide took us through several small villages and off road trails. This was one of the most exhilarating events of my life, seeing new culture on a mountain bike.
Unfortunately, as we were riding down a road, we had gathered a bit of speed. Now, if you know Nepalese roads, they are not the finest. I was following Steve G. down the road and Mike was behind me followed by the Chris and the rest of the group. A large pothole appeared and Steve yelled out to alert the riders behind. I saw the pothole and also yelled back to the group.
Mike…not aware, did not hear the callout and only saw the pothole at the last moment. Trying to break did not help as Mike hit the pothole and speed and went ass over tea kettle. Poor Mike hit hard and was pretty badly bruised and cut up. The remainder of Mike’s ride down was in the van as his bike was also banged up.
We all had a good laugh at it after over cold beers, recalling in detail how Mike looked going over his bike onto the road. This would not be Mike’s last medical adventure.
Once back at the hotel, we met up again with Mike. He was pretty well bruised and cut up, but otherwise, in great spirits. Typical Aussie tough guy, just shrugged it all off as part of the Nepal Experience.
The RDMT ended on March 31 and we all started to say our farewells. I was starting to feel some accomplishments within my new role after my first major event. On April 1 I started the long journey back home to Costa Rica via Las Angeles and Dallas. One thing I would learn over the years is that to get anywhere from Costa Rica was always a minimum of three flights.
Once I was back home, it was time to start looking forward to meeting the rest of the members in our sub-team. A sub-team meeting would be held in Costa Rica shortly after my return from Nepal.
Next Story – Team Meeting – Costa Rica