The Unsung Hero program recognizes ZIN™ Members around the world for their outstanding contributions to their communities, and for their ability to inspire others. In the moments after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Kathmandu on April 25, 2015, ZIN™ Members in Nepal immediately began reaching out to locate fellow instructors and to help those in need. This month, Unsung Heroes is focused on the incredibly strong ZIN community in Nepal.
When the first earthquake struck, the country was devastated. Homes and sacred landmarks crumbled, and more than 3,200 precious lives were lost. Once our Home Office team confirmed that all of our instructors in Nepal were safe and accounted for, we worked with Zumba® Education Specialist, Sucheta Pal, and were able to connect with a team of six instructors, Doma, Smith, Aishwarya, Kusum, Dilip and Ronit. Our goal was to get funds as quickly as possible to instructors who could reach families and individuals that needed immediate relief.
The instructors in Nepal assessed the needs of areas around Kathmandu, determining that the innermost villages had been most deeply affected. Families were congregating in parks, seeking high ground, and had no access to shelter, food, and medicine. The instructors immediately went into action, purchasing bottled water, rice and other dry food, blankets, tents, tarpaulins to make tents where there were none available, bowls, cups, medicine and more. They assembled their own small relief teams, including transportation, to get into the remote areas. Due to impassable roads, many larger organizations had not yet been able to reach these areas, such as Sindulpachowk.
While some of the instructors were traveling from one village to the next, continuing the relief effort, the second earthquake hit. Despite landslides and actually watching the roads shake before their eyes, they waited, and when it was safe, made their way to the people who needed help.
It was the day after the second earthquake that instructor, Smith, met this lady as he was delivering relief items. She invited him to sit with her in her tent. Although she had watched five homes belonging to her family fall to the ground during the second earthquake the day before, she smiled, saying, “I’m so happy to be alive.”
These instructors wanted to be able to go back to the same villages and connect with the people they had met. With the help of a local friend, they made stickers, and they put them on the tents and tarps so that they could identify them and go back and help those specific families and individuals in the following weeks.
Instructors in Nepal and around the world continue to reach out to one another and the Home Office, looking for ways to help support and rebuild this beautiful country.
We are in awe of the determination, heart and bravery of our ZIN community in Nepal, and we honor you as our June 2015 Unsung Heroes.