ARTIST – SUDIP ALE
PHOTOGRAPHY – PATRICK ELLIS
INTERVIEW – BHUWAN ROKKA
TRANSLATOR – UTSAV PRADHAN
Tekendra is the Chief Executive Officer of the Trekking Agency and Association of Nepal (TAAN). After the 25.4.15 earthquake, Tekendra experienced the very negative impact of the disaster. His close friends and relatives lost their lives and he witnessed the psychological trauma that affected the masses. In response, his passion turned to contributing to his nation through the fields of education and tourism.
The earthquake has mentally shaken us. From my realistic viewpoint, after the earthquake, we witnessed horrific and devastating scenes; houses were destroyed, and the friends and neighbours who you would regularly see on the road lost their lives. Due to this, we have sunken to a state of negativity. We try to exploit this world through materialism. We live in a type of rat race. Leaving those influences, even for one instance, people might have been affected spiritually.
My way of thinking and looking at life changed. One should give back to other people and the society in life. Life, it seems, is very short. ‘One’s time in this world can end anytime,’ is an important lesson I learned from the earthquake.
A few months after the earthquake, I was under a lot of stress. Slowly, it is decreasing. After all, I too am a catalyst of the revival and restoration process of the society. But sometimes when I’m alone with myself, I realize that the natural disaster will occur again at any given time. In that regard, I have become wary and aware that such days could come again.
Even after we lost the ones near and dear to us, the ones who survived have to keep the country running. In times of hardship, to be able to gather your strength and work towards the brighter future, and be aware how to minimize the devastation from the earthquake, how you can protect yourself was my focus during my psycho-counselling with students from various places.
In later days, regarding construction, the main discussion point raised was how earthquakes alone don’t kill but the man-made constructions that take lives. This point was indeed universally true. We should design ideas and techniques that can tackle earthquakes and help us develop structures that are earthquake resistant.
I thought that if I switched from educational sector to tourism sector, my scope would widen. I would be able to give back to the nation at a national and international level. With that positive thinking, I switched to this sector after the earthquake.
For the development of Nepal, Kathmandu should not be the only focus. Far and wide rural areas still have not received aid, regardless of it being allocated from the government.
From an unofficial/non-governmental level, in order to help victims, we have to make important decisions. The international aid and donations are usually stored in a specified location. Moreover, on an official level, there are lengthy procedures and thus, regardless of the desire to help, many offices cannot deliver their promises nor win our utmost trust. In this matter, meetings within the respective governmental organizations, and also within private organizations, should make decisions as soon as possible. There can be no greater help than supporting and aiding the real victims. People should wholeheartedly help the ones who are truly in need. Only in this, one can achieve an incomparable satisfaction.
To my knowledge, we collected about Rs. 3 crores [approximately $300,000] and focused on rescue operations. Most of our members on that team used to say, that in most cases, they had to stay in the all the time. They were able to maintain the continuity of the rescue efforts through helicopters. TAAN also supported the rescue efforts of tourists, trekkers, and porters who were stuck in areas such as Langtang.
As a part of TAAN’s CSR, we allocate a huge budget. Through that budget, be it for agro-tourism, for sustainable-responsible-tourism, or for other branches of tourism, TAAN aims to promote programs that positively influence people and boost their economic stature.
We collaborated with organizations like DEFEAT and WWF, utilizing the aid provided by them in villages where daily activities were disrupted, such as Langtang. There we are conducting trail reconstruction efforts. We are also conducting social welfare programs to leave an important mark in the society.