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Wednesday, 29 April 2015 14:48

Breaking Barriers and Advancing to Earthquake Frontline

Written by  Compiled by Tzu Chi Department of Humanistic Culture Development / Taiwan Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

David Liu flew to Kathmandu to join Tzu Chi’s Disaster and Medical Relief Team alone. He reported the large crowd at the airport, and took a selfie photo.[Photograph by David Liu]

“From the initial 1 hour 10 minutes flight, the plane had to circle many rounds in Kathmandu’s airspace before it could finally land.” That was a short note by Malaysian volunteer, David Liu, who set off for Kathmandu on April 28. It was only after landing safely that he poured out his feelings over the long 24-hour journey via the Internet.

Everyone is a documenting team member

In order to extend relief to quake-stricken Nepal, Tzu Chi’s Disaster and Medical Relief Team invited a few members with international disaster relief experiences to join the Team. Malaysian volunteer, David Liu, who has been involved in many of Tzu Chi’s international disaster relief efforts, was assigned to set off from Kuala Lumpur alone, bringing with him some satellite phones, filter kettles, mosquito netting, Jing Si instant rice and hygiene kits. According to the original schedule, he was to join team members from Taiwan on April 27, however, due to service disruptions at the Kathmandu Airport after the quake, he had to spend a long night in Kolkata, India.

On the early morning of April 28, David Liu rushed to the airport hoping to catch a flight to Nepal. On the taxi ride, he manifested the spirit that “everyone is a documenting team member” and penned this instant report:

“David Liu, who was supposed to arrive at Kathmandu at 8pm Nepal time, had to spend a long night in Kolkata, India, due to congested air traffic both in the airspace and on the ground. Some flights were cancelled, some chose to land at nearby airports, while his flight chose to land at Kolkata. Upon reaching the hotel around 2-ish am he accepted an online interview with Da Ai TV at about 4-ish am, had breakfast at about 6 am before setting off to the airport at 8 am, hoping to catch the earliest possible flight to Kathmandu. This report is brought to you by David Liu from Kolkata Airport.”

Overcoming All Challenges with Positive Outlook

On April 28 around 4 pm Nepal time, David Liu finally stood at the Kathmandu Airport. Seeing the overcrowded hall full of people and cluttered with stuff everywhere, he wrote, “Finally the plane landed, but had to wait for another 20 minutes in the cabin while looking for a parking bay. At last, out of the plane but had to wait for three long hours just for three pieces of baggage. People with a short lifespan may not have lived that long for that!”

After handling and reporting the unforeseen circumstances in self-deprecation, David Liu only managed to complete his full lengthy report at night as follows:

“Finally left the airport and arrived at the hotel to be informed that there was no available vacant room. Gosh! We arrived with close to 100 pieces of baggage (comprising relief supplies from Taiwan and Malaysia), so how can we possibly take all our luggage with us to seek accommodation in a school or monastery as suggested by Mr Raja, who booked the hotel for us? Fortunately, it was very resourceful of him to finally find a hotel with six rooms for us to stay. With free Wi-Fi facilities available at the hotel lobby, we quickly got down to work.”

Despite the long arduous journey, Tzu Chi’s Disaster and Medical Relief Team was indeed fortunate to still have proper temporary shelter. Spare some thoughts for the survivors sheltering in tents with plastic mats, enduring and putting up with the cold rainy nights. Team Leader, Superintendent Dr Chien Sou-hsin, revealed that everyone was so busy preparing for their own assigned tasks that evening of their arrival that no one knew what time they retired that night.


The scheduled flights to Nepal were in chaos, and most flights were diverted. Kolkata Airport was affected and was crowded with travellers. [Photograph by David Liu]  

The scheduled flights to Nepal were in chaos, and most flights were diverted. Kolkata Airport was affected and was crowded with travellers. [Photograph by David Liu]