Trip to Bidur Nagarpalika in Nuwakot, Nepal I had been working in support of relief aid from Kathmandu and not going outside of the valley for various reasons. · Safety – Aid convoys were being robbed, victims were angry and aggressiv
· because no one had been to their villages to help
· Did not want to add extra burden of taxing villagers limited resources
· Like supporting Nepalese to help Nepalese
11 days after the quake we thought it would be safe enough to visit the village of Bidur Nagarpalika in Nuwakot that we (Action for Child Rights International, Nepal Art for Education and Givingasha) had sent aid to. Our method of working has been to support areas where we have a trusted person on the ground. In this case Buddhi Bal Magarati, an ACR team member.
We had been hearing these reports of total devastation, but until you actually see it you cannot understand. We stopped for a soda on the way in a small village with several standing cement houses, which are generally thought to be better and stronger than the traditional stone and mud houses. Even these homes which villagers all aspired to have were damaged and 11 days later the owners were sleeping outside too afraid to go inside to get a blanket.
The countryside was dotted with bright orange tarps used as make-shift housing. Buddhi’s home is located right behind the school, which is very heavily damaged. His family had a cement house, but that too is damaged. There are around 200 homes in his village, but spread out in little clusters. His family lives in a cluster of 20 houses. Only 2 cement homes are left standing, all other old mud & stone houses are destroyed.
I just looked around and thought “Where do you begin?” The group of families had already built 3 semi-permanent house out of debris from the fallen houses and were clearing and leveling areas for the next ones to go up. They were saying they wanted them to last 3 years until they can rebuild, but at least 1 of them is not fit to last through the monsoon.
The lucky thing about this small village is that they have good clean running water and many latrines are still standing, so they are able to stay somewhat healthy. Small silver lining in an otherwise bleak situation.
The fear and uncertainty go on for all of us – no matter where we are. Our immediate wormy is about our kids and then letting you know we are okay.
Bishal in rasuwa
Arrived back in Kathmandu from Larsang and Parsang villages, located in one of the remotest parts of Rasuwa District. The conditions of these two villages is miserable. I went together with a team sponsored by Action for Child Rights, Art for Education and Giving Asha. We had to walk about 9 hours up and down the mountains carrying bags of rice and other food stuff and tents.
Our team also had two nurses, whom were in much demand in the health camps we ran. There were many broken bones and head injuries. We were the first relief workers to reach these villages. It was so nice to talk to people, they were so happy to see us there to help them.
On the second day we distributed food and tents, these villages do not have any facilities and the people had to defecate in the open. There is also a scarcity of water so keeping hygienic is difficult. As we learned of the seriousness of the injuries we immediately coordinated with the chief district officer (CDO) and managed to convince him that he needed to send a helicopter to bring in more relief supplies and to take the injured to hospitals.
The third day we made a program for the children. They are traumatized and frightened by the earthquake and all the destruction and lose they have experienced. We played games and laughed and took their minds off things for a few hours, it was nice to be able to bring a smile to their faces.
The fourth day was spent conducting another health camp and tent distribution. We travelled down to Parsang and distributed some food and donated our remaining medical supplies to the local health post. The rest of the day was spent doing need assessments of the villagers.
We ended our work by arranging a meeting with the CDO, locals, police, and political parties to see if they could all work together to address the problems of the villages. It ended on a positive note.
Gorkha - parvati's experience
Parvait and her parents went to their home district of Gorkha, which was the epicenter of the earthquake. As you can see by these pictures there is a tremendous amount of damage to not only homes, but schools, shops, and businesses. On this initial visit they distributed over two tons of food and soap to a few of the more remote villages. She also had a few tents and medicine to distribute from Action for Child Rights International.
This was also a fact finding assessment visit to determine what kind of support the villages are getting from the various branches of government (a little from the local VDC, nothing from central), INGO’s - many are on the ground in Gorkha, but only distributing from the main road! The majority of those in need are not located on the main road, but are several kilometers away or are too old or young to travel to meet the aid on the road. Parvati was able to get 4 tents and blankets from Save the Children to bring into the remoter villages, but this is not enough. The report is basically survival of the fittest.
Many communities are coming together to manage the relief supplies in a fair way, but it is also understandable that people put their own families first and there will always be those who just use the system for their own benefit i.e. take and hoard when they do not need or sell on the black market.
Because the situation is so dire and people are so desperate, aid distribution can be dangerous as people attack the vehicles carrying supplies. This was true even for Parvati and her family who are from this area. People were aggressive until they realized the donations were to be distributed by the community to the community not from anyone else.
We have been advised on these simple things: - Remember these are desperate people so we do not take it personally.
· Do not go in as an organization – expectations too high, communities already angry over neglect and if an organization arrives and all needs not met there could be trouble.
· If sending a representative, have them say they are a relative of someone in the community. This is for their safety.
· Provide for whole community NOT just the people you know. This is for both fairness as everyone is in need and safety.
· If possible have police protection.
Based on her findings and her discussions with the locals on their need to share the aid of the big INGOs and VDC with those unable to reach the road and to establish fair distribution methods based on the number of family members, Parvati has determined that the next distribution should be in ten to fourteen days. She thinks that the aid agencies will have moved on by then. Since, she has family and friends on the ground she is able to monitor the situation closely. Also based on her findings the items to be distributed will be adjusted to post-quake needs i.e. kerosene for lamps as electricity will not be restored for a long time in these areas.
Beth Brewster is the Executive Director of Giving Asha.