Empathy: How a Volunteering Journey to the Epicenter of Earthquake Made me More Compassionate

Last Updated: June 25, 2023

Empathy: How a Volunteering Journey to the Epicenter of Earthquake Made me More Compassionate

I might have been empathetic to some extent all the time, most of us are. I cared about my family, my friends. I could recognize, understand and share the thoughts and feelings of the people close to me, that would definitely qualify me to be an empathetic person to some extent. But almost every one of us has such a kind of relationship and feelings with the people close to us, right? Then what is such a big deal about empathy and compassion? And, why am I sharing this story?

Well, this started in 2015. I was in my kitchen on Saturday afternoon, right after finishing lunch I was planning to rest for a while watching the TV. Then suddenly the floor started trembling, the whole earth started shaking terribly. I found myself thrust into a frightening situation I never imagined of. I ran out of the house and somehow reached the street with my cousin brothers. The chaos engulfed the street and everyone had their eyes filled with a mix of fear and dilemma. There were aftershocks continually shaking the ground every other minute. We reached a football ground and stayed there for safety. We could see the tall building swaying to and fro, noises from the street, with the hit of every aftershock.

Thinking About Your People

Empathy and compassion happen in layers, at first you should be able to build a connection with yourself, a person who doesn’t understand and share the feeling with oneself cannot establish a connection with another person. That moment of the earthquake made me realize how valuable this life is and how connected I am with my inner peace, and that turbulent moment for a while made me realize the value of peace.

My mom and sister were not in the house during that time, mom had gone to visit the temple and my sister was in her office. I tried to call them but the telephone network was not working at that time. All I wanted on the earth at that time was to hear their voices and make sure they were good. At that moment I realized how empty you feel when you get the thought of losing your people.

So, the next level of empathy begins with your people, we are connected with our people to a very elemental level. If we cannot build rapport with our people, if we cannot share our thoughts and emotions with the people around us, we lose the connection with our soul. So, building that compassionate connection with our people is really vital.

Establishing Relationship with Community

I must admit that before the earthquake day I was less connected with the community. During those days the ground was shaking every other hour because of aftershocks. We used to stay in the school grounds to avoid the risk of collapsing roofs. That moment I realized how connected people are with each other. We shared food with each other and we helped each other.

From the food to daily supplies, from medicines to donated bloods, we tried to distribute everything that people in our community needed. That moment I felt empathy is all about feeling that connection and establishing relationships with other people.

Journey to Epicenter and Spark of Empathy and Compassion

We arrived in a small village nestled in between the hills of Gorkha. Many houses of the village were damaged or collapsed by the earthquake, with our arrival I could see the rays of hope in the eyes of locals, the rebuilding project that I was volunteering for was one of the first rebuilding initiatives happening in that region. So, this rebuilding was important for the local people there.

After having conversations and interactions with the people of the village I started feeling the connection with them on a profound level. After helping the people, I discovered that the inner joy comes from giving selflessly. Being able to understand and feel the tears and the laughter of the villagers made me realize the value of compassion and empathy.

I started feeling that transformation of me from a self-centered ordinary individual to a man with compassion and empathy. And today I want to convey one message to the world that your problem will seem miniscule if you start building the ability to understand and share the situations and feelings of other people. The world would be a lot better place with empathy and compassion.

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