On the Wings of an Eagle: Exploration Turns Into a Good Turn

by Adèle Lewis

 

J. Harrison Gibson, a 26 year old Eagle Scout from Texas, bought a one-way ticket for a trek in the Himalayan Mountains.  What he got was an adventure into providing relief to thousands of earthquake victims.

Harrison arrived in Nepal at the end of March 2015.  He was in Nepal’s second largest city, Pokhara, for just 3 weeks when a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the country.

Harrison hiked to the top of a peak above the town of Sarangkot to text his parents and check media reports for information.  Reliable news sources are hard to come by in the town. Harrison found out “it was tough to find any definite information anywhere.”

He returned to Pokhara with supplies that he purchased on his way back. In town he found that people were terrified, businesses closed, and many were camping in the parks.

Harrison and three other foreigners slept indoors with metal cups stacked on the nightstand to warn of aftershocks.  Harrison and his friends joined a non-governmental organization to help.  At the time of the earthquake, the Nepalese government lacked a constitution, an emergency relief plan based outside of Kathmandu, and their peoples’ trust, so private relief worked faster and more efficiently.

They ordered and paid for tarps for Pokhara, but bandits high jacked the relief bus and took everything.  Harrison personally paid outrageous prices to buy additional tents for one man and his family.

Harrison next joined “Himalayan Volunteers” that usually provides aid to schools.  The group started a Facebook campaign to raise donations from around the world. This was a more successful venture, and the small team was able to purchase tents, tarps, medicine, food, and hygiene items and then deliver them by using jeeps and old dump trucks.

They would travel from village to village between Pokhara and Kathmandu helping the Nepalese secure temporary housing and aid. Harrison wasn’t just there to deliver; He loaded and unloaded trucks, helped build small aluminum buildings for families, and administered first aid at work sites.

Dom Windle, Harrison Gibson, and Gual Barwell receiving a tika mark during a ceremony in their honor.

Harrison spent six weeks as a volunteer relief worker.  He says he couldn’t just leave without helping.  Morally, he had to stay. Harrison finally flew home on June 5, 2015.

Currently Harrison is talking to Boy Scout troops in Wichita Falls about helping him raise money to rebuild a school in the Dhading district. “It’s in terrible shape and needs to be rebuilt before kids can continue using it. It’s a primary school that serves over forty students from four different villages.”  Harrison is hopeful to return in the Fall of 2016.

J. Harrison Gibson is a 2007 Eagle Scout from the Northwest Texas Council in Wichita Falls. He graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from University of California Santa Barbara. Professionally he worked to make sure oil field fracking water is clean for repurposing. But for right now he’s traveling the globe.