Exclusive Interview: Megan McCandless, Nepal Earthquake Survivor Chronicles Experience

NEPAL, South Asia – After surviving a massive earthquake in Nepal on Saturday, 19-year-old Megan McCandless is now focused on helping victims of the dreadful quake.

Megan, who is from Rockland, Venango County, spoke with exploreVenango.com‘s Jake Bauer yesterday to answer a few questions about this traumatic experience.

Tell us about your background.

I’m from Rockland, Pa. I graduated from Christian Life Academy (CLA) in 2014. I work as an FOH Specialist at Bob Evans Restaurant in Cranberry.

Tell us about why you are in Nepal.

I’m part of a group called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I started doing a DTS (Discipleship Training School) with them back in January. I wanted to be a part of this organization because I really enjoy traveling and loving on people, especially kids. I left Las Vegas on April 12th to fly to Kathmandu, Nepal, for the outreach phase of our program. So, I’m here in Nepal to love on as many people as I can. I’ve been working with kids in the slums and in villages (who now have nothing because of the earthquake), and the week before the earthquake happened, I had been teaching an English class every day to Nepali women. I’m just showing them the love that God has always shown me.


What were you doing when the earthquake hit?

I was actually supposed to speak at a church where the earthquake hit the hardest, but I couldn’t get a hold of the pastor of the church to get the directions on how to get there. So, the team and I decided to just attend another church that morning. When the earthquake happened, the service was just ending, and the pastor was closing with a prayer. The whole building just began to shake.

Can you describe the events that took place following the earthquake?

While the earthquake was happening, a few of my teammates and I made sure that people were getting out of the building, especially all the children. We thought for sure the building was going to collapse, but thankfully it didn’t, and all of us got out safely. After we got out of the building, we walked to an open area and some of us stayed there while some of us went quickly back to our house to get a few of our teammates that stayed behind because of sickness, and we brought them to the open area. Thankfully, our house was still standing. We camped outside that whole day, and I am still camping outside today. There were so many aftershocks for the first 72 hours. One night, we experienced over 60 aftershocks. We were always ready to protect ourselves or run. We barely slept, and we lived off of some crackers we had. We had a little bit of rice at one point that we all portioned and shared with neighbors.


What was going through your mind as the events were taking place?

I was actually very surprised at how much peace I had through the whole thing. When the earthquake hit, I had no thought of dying. I was determined to get everyone out of that building, including myself. I knew God had/has so much more for me to do in this life. While the aftershocks were happening, I was huddled outside with a ton of other people. All the Nepalis had their brothers and sisters and children. And, the big thing that was going on in my mind was thank God my siblings aren’t here with me.

Are you assisting in cleanup efforts?

Yes. Starting yesterday my team and I have started cleaning up bricks from houses and passing out as much food and water as we can get. Some shops are starting to open now, so we are buying as much stuff as we can for the people around us. The whole area is going through a water shortage, so we’re hoping that that situation gets better. Tonight, we started planning activities we can do with all the kids because they are all so bored and exhausted from being in one place for the past 4 or 5 days. We’re just kind of walking around everyday with our backpacks full and giving out any help anyone may need. Most everyone needs at least a little help.


How long will you be in Nepal? Are you looking forward to returning to Venango County?

The plan has always been to stay in Nepal til May 7th and then head to India to help in an orphanage. I believe we are still going through with that plan, but everything is still up in the air. Yes, but I would definitely not choose to go home right now. I am missing people back home, but I also want to make sure I do as much as I can here before I leave.

You have received a lot of support from the people of Venango County, many of them being strangers. Is there anything that you’d like to pass along to them?

Yeah, I’ve received so much love from so many people. It’s crazy. I think our experience would have been a lot worse if we didn’t have so many people from so many different places praying for all of us. So, thank you for all the prayers and support you all have given to me and the team! I’m sending much love back to ya’ll!

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