Manish KC will never forget the horror of experiencing the Nepal earthquake of 2015.

He saw friends’ homes fall to the ground before his eyes, babies and children buried under rubble, entire families lost.

The 7.8M earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people and injured close to 22,000.

Manish was 16 years old at the time.

“I had never seen devastation from an earthquake like that before,” he says. “It was very traumatic.”

After the earthquake, the narrow alleyways in Kathmandu made it difficult for earthmovers and rescuers to reach the collapsed buildings, so the community rallied together.

They formed human chains and carried debris out. Anyone who was able-bodied, including teenagers like Manish, helped in whatever way they could.

Manish cleared rubble, distributed food and water, looked after distressed children while their parents assisted with the rescue efforts, and comforted the elderly.

“My house got completely totalled and the external washroom from our old house was the only part that was not touched,” Manish says. “After the earthquake, there were 80 of us living under one tent – the entire community – and that was the only useable washroom for the whole community.”

Due to the earthquake, Manish’s Year 12 exams were postponed, but he eventually sat them and passed with flying colours.

At age 17, he came to Australia on his own and enrolled in Chisholm’s Diploma of Nursing.

Manish says the trauma of the earthquake is what inspired him to choose his career path.

“In Nepalese society, the whole expectation is that if your son does really well in his studies, then he has to become a doctor, engineer or pilot,” says Manish. “When I decided to do nursing there were definitely quite a few eyebrows raised, especially about a man being a nurse.”

“I possibly could have been a doctor, I just never wanted to. Doctors cure, but nurses care, and that’s all I saw during the earthquake and aftermath. Every member of the community was caring for someone else. If the doctor can’t get there, someone still has to make sure the person doesn’t bleed out or have that first aid until a doctor can see them. To me that’s worth more than being able to stitch someone up.”

After finishing his nursing diploma, Manish enrolled in a Bachelor of Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs – another choice that stemmed from the earthquake.

“We don’t talk about trauma back home,” he says. “As a 16-year-old, I was left to figure out all of this on my own.”

One year into the course, Manish got a job as a psychiatric enrolled nurse at a public hospital.

He finds his work extremely fulfilling and loves that no two days are the same.

“I have so many good stories, so many tragic stories,” he says. “I enjoy my work and having the opportunity to learn a lot from the patients, while providing them care.”

Manish proved to be an exceptional student at Chisholm, and was nominated for a number of awards, including Vocational Student of the Year/International Student of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards. He was also one of the first international students to be part of the Student Ambassador program, helping other students to find their way around campus and organising social events.

“I consider Chisholm my family,” says Manish. “Even now, when I go to the international department it’s literally like I’m home, because they were my first point of contact as soon as I came to Australia. They will always have a special place in my heart.”