KAMLOOPS - David Sakaki received a call for help with the devestating earthquake in Nepal while he was flying home to Kamloops after his humanitarian work in Nicaragua. So he got off the plane, went home, unpacked and packed again.
Sakaki volunteers with GlobalMedic, a team of medical professionals which travels to areas rocked by disaster. For Nepal, it was two massive earthquakes which left thousands displaced and villages in disarray. He took numerous day trips to different villages across three districts where he and his team built shelters and makeshift hospitals.
“I saw the full gamut,” the Kamloops Fire Rescue Lieutenant said. “A few days after the earthquake, people started getting their lives back. After the second, people were paralyzed."
Now back home, Sakaki said he felt helpless when the second quake hit. At the time he rushed out of his tent and watched the dust plumes raise as surrounding villages crumbled.
“After the second (earthquake) people were paralyzed,” he said.
What haunted Sakaki most was the villagers’ looming paranoia. Each earthquake delivered subsequent smaller quakes. If the ground shook, villagers would scream and rush out of their homes, Sakaki said.
“We really can’t even comprehend what these people go through,” he said adding the disasters he’s used to seeing locally pale in comparison to those abroad.
“We’re so fortunate in this country. Even the people here who lose absolutely everything are still looked after,” he noted.
Despite losing their family members, homes and possessions, the people Sakaki met remained resilient; he credits them as a motivator in his volunteer efforts.
“Hopefully you can try and make their day a little better,” he said.
It may seem like the country is on the mend, but Sakaki warns the worst is still to come.
“Probably the most tragic thing is monsoon season is coming up,” he said, adding the big aid agencies are predicting a massive loss of life due to landslides.
Sakaki is appealing to people to donate money, not items, to help with rebuilding effort. He says people have great intentions, but due to the lack of commercial flights to the area, donated items won't get there.
He hopes to return to Nepal, crediting Kamloops Fire Rescue and his wife for supporting him in his aid efforts which have taken him to the Phillipines, Japan, Africa, Vietnam and India.
“It’s the right thing to do. My wife is amazing. If the phone rang tomorrow she’d be the first one packing my bag for me,” he said.
For more information on GlobalMedic's project in Nepal, including how to donate, visit www.globalmedic.ca.
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