Below is an update on the Nepal situation from a good friend who is volunteering for Himalayan Aid. Himalayan Aid is providing (amon many things) sheet metal for families to incorporate into their temporary housing so that when they are able to reconstruct their homes, they will already have the roof metal. Brilliant.
“Jim’s running a great little operation. The key part it is facilitating the Nepalis to help other Nepalis dig out and get roofs over their heads). As foreigners, the most effective part is fundraising at home and then maybe interfacing with the big international NGO’s, if you want to tap into their supplies and resources. Just about everyone has been affected from Kathmandu and beyond. And up in Jethal where Jim’s project is- i estimate about 98% displacement. Kathmandu feels very normal, until you start looking up close at all the damage, but it is so easily hidden in the normal chaos of that city. And the fact that there are tent camps in all the city parks and open spaces. Anyhow – it was great to get out of Kathmandu and head up to Jethal in Sindupalchowk. I spent over a week up there, observing, documenting with pics (hopefully to help the fundraising machine for Jim), and helping out wherever I could. Long walks through all the villages away from the road were pretty depressing, as the destruction was everywhere of homes and villages. At the same time the crops are super lush- so it felt oddly like a reverse neutron bomb or something – that only affected structures but left fields, livestock and lives largely intact (at least physically). After my rounds I’d help out the girls with digging new house platforms, and schlepping recycled lumber, which was quite entertaining for some to watch…. 2 village wards decided to move off their land and move up the hill – for fear of monsoonal landslides- so there was a lot of digging and building activity near where I was based. I’ll tell you- it was really uplifting to see people getting on with their lives and getting busy building. I can’t imagine the devastation of losing the place you’ve lived and added onto for multiple generations. I do suppose there was some consolation in the group suffering – that everyone had suffered together. Anyhow – it was really interesting to plunk myself down for a week+ and getting into the flow of daily life and getting a better understanding of the patterns and issues people faced – though I can really say I did terribly little to help. I’m sure I gained more than I put in, by digging a few holes– and throughout all the duress, the Nepali hospitality never faded, and all the ladies were asking to feed me after I’d lifted a couple of shovels of dirt! Jim’s Nepali boys (5 of them) come from the Jethal district, and were managing fair distribution of the donated goods, and helping out with the rebuilding. It’s a pretty simple setup – as it should be. So after a while it was time to move on – as it became quite clear how little I could do as a non-Nepali speaker. Jim and team have now completed their objectives for supplying Jethal with roofing material and are moving over to the neighboring district to start delivering supplies. The need is endless here – as probably close to a million homes have been destroyed. The greatest thing was seeing all these tiny relief initiatives popping up. Nepalis helping Nepalis especially. Ex-pat Nepalis coming home to load up a truck of supplies and go back their villages. Or the Kathmandu successful, giving right back to the villages they came from. There are soooo many stories like that. The big NGO’s were a bit slow off the mark – as they just aren’t very nimble at response (but a month later now, some are stepping up).”