A post earthquake visit

As it was difficult to get regular and accurate information on the post earthquake conditions of many of the villages where we have been helping out, Bernard flew over to Nepal in late May 2015, firstly to see how things really were first hand, and also to distribute some of the funds we had raised directly to where it was needed.

It is difficult to convey how much damage has been done to the buildings, particularly in the rural areas. As we drove north from Kathmandu towards the Rasuwa district, the higher we reached towards the Langtang area, the greater and more frequent the building damage was.

We took close note of the “tent villages” that had sprung up on areas of land that were stable, and it was interesting to see where the infrastructure donations had come in from. Many of the tents/tarpaulins bore the emblems of Chinese Red Cross and also UK Aid – from the British people. There were also signs of significant help from Spain and Canada, but virtually no signs of aid from the Nepali government.

Once we got into the Langtang area, the smaller villages that dotted the hillsides; the ones that usually seem camouflaged as a result of the earthy materials that were used to build their houses, were easily seen, due to the large number of orange plastic tarpaulins that replaced the fallen buildings, and where the people now live.

Brabal monastery

 

The historic monastery at Brabal was completely collapsed, along with other nearby buildings we walked past, but that didn’t prepare us for what we saw when we got to our Nepali “home village” of Thulu Syabru. What is usually a sense of homecoming that we experience was replaced with a deep sadness for what has happened. Out of the 170 buildings that were there before the earthquake, there are now only 12 buildings that are either standing, or are economically capable of salvage. Fortunately, our health clinic was one of the unaffected ones, so Badra and Bhim were busy helping with constant primary health care.

The main monastery in the village, as well as the smaller one at Munche were destroyed; the school building is badly cracked and the ground around it has opened up with deep fissures. We walked down the spine of the ridge that was once the walking trail of the village with a heavy heart; with clear memories of when this was the hub of village life, and also where weary trekkers gathered.

On the first night in Thulu Syabru we attended the final part of the funeral for Sonam, who was the beautiful young nurse from the village who was killed in Langtang village form the landslide. It was so sad to see her parents; to look at pictures of her smiling face with all the promise of life ahead, yet to be here at the ceremony that acknowledged that this life has been stopped way too short.

We spent the next week in meetings with various village committees, distributing funds and medical equipment, finding out which aid organisations had been there.  A very big thank you to Medicines sans Frontiers and Save the Children who had flown in on chartered helicoptors to distribute emergency medicine shortly after the earthquake, and liaise with us regarding the conditions in the village. While we didnt get to inspect Gatlang and Gre villages due to logistical issues, I did speak with the principal of Gatlang school and we worked out ways to use soem of our previously dontated money for a more appropriate immediate use.

It was so good to be discussing options for immediate help, and also working through future plans for our health clinic. There were definitely positive outcomes coming out of our discussions and we are looking forward to helping implement them.

 As sad as it was to be in the now-devastated village, where there had been so many happy times before, it was inspirational to see first-hand the acceptance and resilience of the local people, and also to experience their exceptionally generous hospitality, in spite of the hardships that they are enduring, and are well aware they will be experiencing for quite some time.

There are life lessons we can all learn from these people. They need help from those of us that live in better conditions, so please let us not forget them, and lets help them to rebuild.

Note - Bernard paid for all the costs associated with this trip, as with every trip we do, and none of the fundraising is used in any way. The charter of our organisation is solely for the benefit of health and education in rural Nepal, and we ensure that every dollar/pound/rupee raised goes only for those purposes.