As I write this second blog, another aftershock makes me pick up my bag to head out the door, but it is over in two seconds, so I stand wondering and chatting with Annie, my World Renew colleague, trying to decide whether or not to leave the building for safety. We decide to stay but unlock the front door in case we need a quick exit.
On Friday the 22nd I took a three hour drive out of the capital, Kathmandu, to our target location in the district of Nowekot. The first two hours were on a great highway. The next half hour was on smaller paved roads, followed by another half hour on hairy, narrow, rocky roads. The scenery in Nepal is spectacular. Driving through the country, though, you see signs of earthquake damage throughout.
People in Nepal are very resourceful. They have used every speck of land to farm on, and terrace even the steepest of slopes.
The narrow roads that we are driving on had to be cleared of landslides after last month’s quake. Now that that hard work is done, we are able to get to this village of Karka Gau. Here I am on the top of a mountain in ward 5 of the VDC Manakanama, district Nowekot where 98 families live. Only three houses have not been damaged. The rest of them all have damages to varying degrees.
In this village I met an 84-year-old man who was moving fallen bricks in the rubble of what was once his home. He is amazingly strong still but needs help.
In the village of Chapdada, in Ward 3 of the same VDC, Manakanama, I met a 70-year-old man whose house was totally destroyed. His family of 13 lived here, but his youngest son died in another house while visiting friends. There are many people – old and young alike – who are now exposed to the elements. Some families are sleeping in the school building because it still has a roof. Others are afraid to stay there, because they fear it will collapse if there is another earthquake.
These two villages I visited have not received any assistance from any other organization at all, even four weeks after the earthquake. The only visitors they have had is one youth organization that came to play some games and provide music to help children with emotional trauma. The communities have no tarpaulins for protection and have no seeds for the next rice planting.
Thank goodness World Renew finally has permission to serve 935 households, in all nine wards in the VDC of Manakanama. Here we are meeting with the VDC secretary, Mr. Laxman Bhandari. It has taken awhile to coordinate and ensure we are not overlapping with other organizations giving assistance also. We have arranged a meeting on Monday May 25th, with each of the leaders of the nine wards to orient them to what they can expect from World Renew.
Our warehouse is filling up with tarps, ropes, and buckets. We are packaging the hygiene kits tomorrow, comprised of a bath towel and soap, toothpaste and six toothbrushes, laundry soap, underwear, feminine napkins, a comb and oral rehydration tablets. A two-week supply of food that includes rice, lentils, oil, salt and a soya bean dried item will arrive in the next day or so. We expect to be distributing midweek.
One month after the earthquake, after setting up offices, getting money into Nepal, finding suppliers, and training local staff and volunteers on procurement, warehousing, good distribution practices, etc, we are relieved to finally reach people with help and hope. We are also sourcing blankets, tents, andcorrugated galvanized iron sheets for shelter to help them withstand the coming monsoon season and cooler nights.
Looking at these young girls, it reminds me of my granddaughters Olivia and Gwenivere, who I miss. But it is a privilege to help other young children in Nepal.
Thanks for all your prayers that have kept me safe. Please continue to pray for wisdom and discernment.