I keep remembering the shy smiling faces of children peeking out from behind their mother’s skirts as my group trekked through their villages on the way to Everest Base Camp in 2010. Fragile timber dwellings pinned precariously to the side of the mountain. I can’t stop my mind imagining what happened when the earthquake struck. Did these buildings collapse torn from their fragile moorings? or did entire villages actually slide off the face of the earth? and what has happened to the smiling children? Where are the monks? what happened to the colourful prayer wheels that I spun for luck and safety on my way through the mountains? What has happened to the monastery at Tengboche where I kneeled for hours, caught up in a heady mix of chanting and altitude, feeling moved by emotion I couldn’t quite understand. Back in Kathmandu where the rubble of 2,000 years is still trapping bodies in the chaos of seconds; where is the Kamari? The ‘Living Goddess’ the child confined to a silken palace until she comes of age or bleeds. Has the Goddess survived? My memories have become the stuff of nightmares and I feel so helpless and somehow guilty. Just like the hours of meditation that passed in a flash at the monastery in Tengboche, I feel moved by emotion I cannot quite understand. The horror of what has happened to Nepal this week is too big to understand.
The UN is estimating that eight million have been affected by the disaster and the authorities are overwhelmed by appeals for help from remote Himalayan villages left devastated by the quake and aftershocks. The destruction of the capital Kathmandu is heartbreaking. People lie buried in the wreckage of their homes, hospitals are running short of medical supplies, tented communities are struggling to find food and clean water, and all around funeral pyres are burning while revered temples are reduced to rubble.
This week the Nepalese Prime Minister, Sushil Koirala warned that the number of people killed in the country’s worst earthquake in 80 years, could reach 10,000. Even as he spoke, rescuers were struggling to reach remote communities cut off by the quake. With the death toll recorded by the Home Ministry exceeding 5,000 and with more than 8,000 injured; those casualties are expected to rise further as information emerges from more remote areas outside Kathmandu.
The ‘Save the Children’ organisation has noted that information from these areas is severely lacking at this time with roads blocked and communications unreliable; while the UN children’s agency UNICEF says nearly 1 million Nepalese children urgently need assistance.
Nepal needs your help, both with dealing with the immediate crisis and rebuilding the community in the aftermath of this disaster. Donate to the big NGO’s like the Red Cross, Goal, Concern or Oxfam, which poured into Kathmandu within hours of the disaster, or donate to some of the projects that I am supporting here. There is no competition for where you donate, just donate. This proud and self-sufficient people are desperately in need of every cent we can spare.
I have given a small donation to Concern with whom I have a long association and I am also supporting the Nepal Ireland Society which has a long tradition here in Ireland, and which has set up an iDonate page to direct funds to specific areas of need. Like others, I also have concern for the remote villages beyond the central population hub of the capital, Kathmandu. The places where the rescuers have not yet managed to penetrate; where unspeakable horrors have yet to unfold. I am daunted by the scale of the emergency, the immediate crisis and the years of work ahead to repair communities, infrastructure, tourism and trade. It’s too much to contemplate, and yet I want to help, to do something. So I have decided to focus on two small villages, and do what I can to help there.
I know I can make a difference and you can too. Imagine being able to connect for the rest of your life with a village that you helped to rescue? To know without question what your contribution has managed to achieve? Ian Wall and his Nepalese wife Sarita Lama are based in Kathmandu but Sarita’s family are from two small villages Gumpa Village, Sindapulchowk and Megre Village, Ramachamp. This week Ian sent out a cry for help on social media after being told by authorities that both villages were ‘too far away to help’. Ian and Sarita had already been actively engaged with the Himalayan Stove Project, which has been working for several years to improve general living conditions in the remote villages. The couple have a hands-on approach to helping the Nepalese long before the earthquake, so they are well placed to help and understand what is required.
Ian writes that the recent earthquake has not only devastated both villages, but also the population.
Gumpa is a small and remote village set in the beautiful hills to the north of Barharbise, near Kodari and the Freedom Bridge crossing into Tibet/China, two days walk from the road head which we believe has been destroyed. Megre is in Ramachamp, situated high in the foot hills in the north of the Gurashaker Range. Again access is poor and presumably now very difficult.
We know very extensive damage has occurred with virtually all the houses destroyed and that many people were killed, however, since then all communications have stopped. Our concern now is for their protection from the elements and the amount of food that they have access to – both communities live from hand to mouth, and as per the tradition, all food materials would be stored in the houses and presumably that is now either destroyed or contaminated.
There is a definite need for quick-term intervention and that is all I am proposing. I believe there is foreign aid being diverted into Nepal but much of that will go to the main centres of population or to the Government for strategic support. I doubt if any will get to the very local grass root level, certainly not in the immediate future. I should add that Sarita and I have a vested interest in these two communities as these are Sarita’s parents’ family homes thus many of Sarita’s relatives have been killed.
Irish adventurer Mike O’Shea has worked with Ian and Sarita on the Himalayan Stove Project and has put his weight behind their campaign, setting up a fundraising page to ‘facilitate people who want to help, and link them with people who can make it happen on the ground’. Mike reports that money donated so far is already being spent on food, medication and tarpaulins and they are working on securing a helicopter to speed up the delivery of supplies. One person he has spoken to, who has flown over the region, said the flight was very traumatic as they were unable to identify some of the villages because they had been so badly damaged by the quake and landslides that followed.
Mike sums up the situation well..
Guys it’s not about likes and clicks. Any amount is a help, so please help now at a level you can afford or that you feel is appropriate.
Here are the links to help…
Concern – Make a donation of €4 – just text RESCUE to 50300