Greyshirt Reflections: Training with the Gurkha Welfare Trust

I have been a Greyshirt with Team Rubicon UK since October 2018 and have now completed six overseas deployments as well as a number of responses and projects in the UK. 

I was fortunate enough to be selected as part of a small team to deliver disaster preparedness training to the Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT) across a number of sites in Nepal, including Kathmandu and Pokhara. This was the second time I had delivered training to GWT teams as I was also part of a small team that went out last year. 

I didn’t hesitate to volunteer for this month-long deployment. I already knew the Gurkha Welfare Trust’s work was pivotal in supporting the people of Nepal in the wake of a natural disaster. It was also a fantastic opportunity to teach planned preparedness and resilience in contrast to providing emergency response after a disaster which I did twice last year in Mozambique following Cyclone Idai and then after Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

In 2019, the training we provided had an emphasis on earthquake preparedness teaching. We built on that this year and included managing victims of flooding, a natural disaster Nepal suffers from each year with the seasonal monsoons. Last year, over 10,000 people were displaced due to monsoon flooding. During the deployment, I was teaching the students about the management of casualties after they had been submerged in flood water. 

We were warmly welcomed at all the Area Welfare Centres where we were teaching students. Like last year, I found the students very keen to learn and enthusiastic about taking part in the practical sessions. The language barrier was a challenge for us as a team and meant it was really important to make the sessions interesting and understandable. Using exercises like the marshmallow challenge – a team building exercise that teaches people to work together quickly and efficiently – and getting the students into water to practise rescues brought the theory to life and was certainly more engaging than a PowerPoint presentation in a classroom! On a personal level, I found the greatest challenge was teaching the nurses and doctors a subject that they potentially had a great deal of knowledge and insight into. But I’m pleased to say that all of the sessions we taught went really well and it was a pleasure to teach such engaged, eager and friendly groups. 

I’m extremely proud to have worked with the small select team that came out to Nepal. It embodied excellent leadership and fantastic teamwork to achieve our aims. The students from the GWT and the people of Nepal are friendly and welcoming and the country is stunningly beautiful.I left the country as I did last year; knowing that, five years on from the devastating earthquake, a natural disaster in Nepal is a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ and with the hope that some of the training might help in some small way to relieve the suffering of the people Nepal when they face another natural disaster. I am confident we’ve made valuable friends and contacts across Nepal that we can work together with if we were deployed as response operation in the future.

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