17 June 2015 Julian is back in Australia
It was a physically and emotionally difficult four weeks for Julian in Nepal but the good news is he saw great progress in the re-building and preparation for the monsoon season. Rasuwa district seems to be fairing better than some others mostly thanks to the coordinated efforts of HHCP local volunteers and the generous support of Reach Out Nepal donors. See Julian's full report here.
11 June 2015 Thanks from Hari
Harikrishna Devkota writes "As founder and President of HHCP or High Himalayan Community Projects, Nepal, I would like to thank you personally and on behalf of the committee of the High Himalayan Community Project Nepal, all the sponsored families and the people of Rasuwa district: Thank you very much for all your help, your kind words and expressions of genuine sympathy and horror at the tragedy unfolding in Nepal. This has been a terrible blow for us on so many levels. We have lost many things but still we are struggling to survive and we are very keen to make a difference together. Your ongoing support of our projects is so greatly appreciated. As you know, the money raised will go directly towards helping the people of remote villages of Rasuwa district; helping these families to bring dark to light after the earthquake disaster and to escape the cycle of poverty through the power of education and innovative projects. You are such a big part of “helping this community to help themselves."
Hari goes on to say "You can't help but feel deep sadness at the sights of destruction. There are villages like Ghormu where every house is collapsed or too unstable to use, and the whole land where the school and houses are located is cracked so the people are terrified and the 92 families that once lived in Ghormu have left the area. Relief supplies haven't reached Ghormu yet. We were the first aid team to arrive in Sarsiu and Ghormu Village but the people there need so much help that we ourselves can't make a big difference because of our very limited resources."
6 June News from Julian
"I have seen unbelievable and heartbreaking destruction caused by the earthquake, houses destroyed and schools rendered unusable. Children haven’t been able to attend school for six weeks and families have waited desperately for relief aid .Hari has been able to gather donations from many international sources so that he could organise the purchase and distribution of thousands of sheets of roofing iron for families to build monsoon proof shelters. Things are starting to improve however the real work of rebuilding these communities is only just beginning."
1 June 2015 News from Julian
“After two weeks up in the village I am back in Kathmandu. After all that rice and hard work, I need a break. It has been a fantastic time although there is still so much to be done especially after the monsoon season has finished. The roofing iron has been delivered and distributed, although the last load was delayed and I had left by the time it is supposed to have come. It all went smoothly although Hari is feeling the pressure from people wanting more.
“Rebuilding Hari's home is one huge task but with hired help and myself and Hari's father working like trojans, they were near to having the roof on before I left. I just needed a break and a chance to have a hot shower and wash my clothes. I intend to go back up when I come back from Pokhara. It would be great if they had wheelbarrows since the way it works now is you move dirt and rocks to a pile, and then move that pile further along. Backbreaking and slow work. There is dust everywhere and when the monsoon comes there will be mud everywhere. They also get regular tremors of good strength.
“It is pretty grim in Rasuwa but the spirit of the people is quite strong and Hari is a determined man. I also visited Ghormu village before I left. It is like a ghost town. There is no road there so it is pretty isolated.
“On the bus back to Kathmandu I saw hundreds of makeshift homes which were simply a tarp over a pole. There is no way they will withstand a monsoon. I know that the people of Rasuwa district are blessed to have the tin made possible by donations made through Reach out Nepal.“
30 May 2015 News from Margo
"Well it was back to Kathmandu a little early for me. I endured a kamikaze bus driver up to the village, two violent thunder storms in a tent with sheets of tin thrown over my tent one night and landing on top of and breaking my tent the 2nd night, a 5.5 tremor in the middle of the night, being eaten alive by fleas and I hurt my ankle slightly, so this little black duck retreated back to the "safety" of Kathmandu where at least I can get some computer work done!!! Life for the locals here is so tough at the moment and I semi-understand their feelings of fear, being a little freaked out myself right now and I am so over tremors and feeling the need to run to open ground at any given moment. Not a pleasant way to live life, and then so many thousands of them are homeless.......
"Julian was totally blown away by the devastation in the village and surrounds that many of us know so well, and I still feel completely overwhelmed by the work this country has ahead of it to try and get back on its feet.
"My heart just broke in two one night when Hari's dad, one of the most gentle and generous men you will ever meet, sat and cried. He and I had to madly put down tarps to attempt to protect the work we had done that day on their demolished house as a fierce storm blew in quickly, and he became so overwhelmed with the despair of their situation. It was very hard to witness......
"Nevertheless, the rural Nepali's are resilient and if they have the available resources are rebuilding their homes for the monsoon season. The mood is that they will rebuild more "earthquake" resilient homes again after monsoon finishes, although Julian and I have our
doubts that they will all do this, firstly because of the expense when they have nothing, and secondly that it is such an incredible job firstly demolishing their partially remaining houses and then rebuilding stone by stone with only very primitive tools. I have helped to build a couple of homes in Nepal over the years, as has Julian, and have also worked with stone building many dry stone walls and pathways in my previous home, but nothing comes close to this kind of work. It is incredibly heavy work that is also akin to working on a bomb site with very limited room )(being high up in the Himalayas).
"Hari's family home now has 5 construction workers helping to rebuild a makeshift home ready for the monsoon. Most of his family are either too young, too old or too busy feeding the animals to help, and Hari is busy dealing with so many other distributions and problems throughout the villages. I put in a couple of days work and Julian is still working like a trojan with the building
team. We are hoping the quarters will be finished in a couple more days although ironically they must wait another week for the corrugated iron as supplies have run out with all available corrugated iron currently going to the families who are receiving donor sheets. Hari really does put his own, and his own family's needs last!! This is also a man that like so many others has no form of income at the moment, and most probably not for quite a while. All his work with HHCP Nepal is voluntary.
"For the incredible people who have made any kind of donation to High Himalayan Community Projects Nepal, I have many pictures of the corrugated iron purchased being carried away to assist in the rebuild of their homes. As you know there have been over 700 families who have had this assistance and hoping to be able to help another 300. Another load of corrugated iron is arriving tomorrow morning so Hari and Julian will be down in Jibajibe markets recording this process.
"Committees have been formed in each village to compile a list of the most needy families and with 9,000 families in this district who need to rebuild this can't be an easy task!! These families are then given a ticket which they must produce at the supply store, so it is all very legitimate and above board which is comforting.
"I was quite worried about a couple of our sponsor children and how on earth in the situation they are living in, they are going to rebuild. Hari reassured me these children were the first on the list and that they had outside family who would hopefully help. One of the children is currently living in a tent in the local school grounds with her grandmother and school starts back on Sunday, so ......
"We have been privy to witness some pretty ridiculous distributions that are now just starting to reach some villages. The other day one handout was packs consisting of 2 tins of chick peas, a
packet of pasta and 2 packets of dried noodles flown all the way in from Qatar!! So inappropriate for their basic needs, rice and shelter. Another distribution was obviously some towels that the villages don't use, so the women are wearing them around their waist or even their head like an extra adornment.
"On the positive, an American doctor who was born in Nepal gathered funds and just yesterday distributed 800 packs of rice, cooking oil, salt, cooking and eating utensils, and a tarp to the Ghormu area and surrounds. Again this was done with a list of the most needy. It really reinforces that it is so important to have a local on the ground that is so aware of local needs. Makes me feel pretty good about the help that has been organised by Hari on behalf of HHCP Nepal, such a worthy way to spend your donation dollars. Three cheers to all of you for having the faith to support High Himalayan Community Projects Nepal!!!"
28 May 2015
Julian reports from Nepal that the iron bought with Reach Out Nepal funds has already been ordered and is on its way to the village of Jibajibe for distribution to the most needy families there ie those whose house had completely collapsed and couldn't be salvaged enough to provide even temporary shelter. Margot and Hari met Julian at the airport in Kathmandu to take care of the funds Julian had carried on behalf of Reach Out Nepal.
Since it is now a month since the first earthquake, Julian said he was pleasantly surprised at how Katjhmandu looked. A lot of rubble had been cleared away and a lot of buildings seemed undamaged. The old part of Kathmandu, Thamel, which is a mecca for tourists and where a lot of damage occurred to the old buildings there, was pretty much deserted. There are earth tremors during the night.
Julian has now travelled to Jibajibe village area with Margot and Hari. He said the roads are appalling and the coach driver was a lunatic since it still only took 5 hours to get to the town of Kalikastan but he felt it should have taken a lot longer! They then had a pleasant walk for about an hour to Hari's place in janglang village above Jibajibe marketplace. He says the central market place area known as Jibajibe is still pretty much in tact as the buildings are more substantial but the village houses around the marketplace are mostly in ruins.
Julian is sleeping in a tent he took with him, on the terrace below where Hari's house once stood. There was a 5.5 earth tremor beneath him the other night, something the local have to deal with on a regular basis. There are also violent thunder storms.
His overwhelming feeling is one of frustration. ''Depressing'' and ''not easy'' are the words Julian uses most in communication. He says there are rocks and timber everywhere and basically it looks like a bomb site. He and Margot have spent a couple of days trying to clear the rubble from Hari's house so they can put a temporary roof over what is left of the downstairs storage room and kitchen. Hari has now hired 5 Nepalese people (one of them a builder) to do the work but apparently the plan changes all the time and there is so much stuff everywhere it is hard to make progress. The kids are still happy and continue as usual but the adults are worried and in despair at times. Needless to say they are getting on with it. Luckily there is not much happening in the fields at the moment although Julian says they spend a lot of time feeding the buffalo etc. Julian visited one of the neighbours where two brothers had built a 3.6m x 3.6m (12 ft x 12 ft) shed to house their 2 families over the monsoon period. Cramped but OK and apparently quite a few people are doing this.
22 May 2015 Report from Margot in Nepal
''Last Sunday I went Jibajibe Village and surrounds to witness first-hand the impact of the earthquakes over here. Wow, wow, wow is all I can say........
''Despite the total carnage of buildings and lives lost in virtually the entire district, the mood amongst the people is one of courage and moving forward, their resilience is to be admired. They are still terrified of another quake and talk of this
constantly, although are moving on with their day to day lives, trying to re-build temporary housing in readiness for oncoming monsoon, and tending to animals and crops.
''The trip up to the village was far better than I imagined. The road at this point doesn't appear to have any significant damage, although I think the coming monsoon will tell another tale.
''Hari's family home has been flattened so they are living under a few sheets of iron held up by bamboo poles, and my
sleeping abode is a small tent beside this structure.
''Time in the village was spent visiting as many sponsor children/families, schools etc as time allowed. Many many photos taken of the carnage and of many of the more local sponsor children. These will be forwarded to their respective sponsors ASAP. At the moment there so much to do and I am just prioritising.
''I didn't get to visit Betang village as time ran out, although did visit Kimarchung, Ghormu and Sarsiu. Kimarchung school has suffered quite a deal of damage so the students of this school will now resume their studies in a tent early next week. Ghormu School has suffered a lot of damage and as we arrived in Jibajibe met the school principal who was picking up
tents that will be used as school rooms. I'm not sure how many students will re-attend this school. The RONEP donated computer survived, although the printer didn't. Ghormu village is now a ghost town with all villagers vacating and moving to temporary shelters elsewhere for the monsoon season. Sarsiu School has been severely damaged so presume they will also resume lessons in tents supplied. Sarsiu is similar to Jibajibe in that the villagers are madly setting up temporary shelters in readiness for monsoon. The solution for some families has been to move the animals out of their quarters that are now serving as family homes, and the animals have been re-housed with more scant protection from the elements.
''It was back to Kathmandu on Wednesday to pick up a good friend Julian Laing from the airport. Julian flew over on a covert mission to bring over RONEP donations in Australia received to date. HHCP Nepal was very lucky that Julian offered to fly over and save much money by bringing it personally rather than losing thousands through bank fees and lousy exchange rates. Bless you Jules. Nola back in Sydney was very happy when we rang to inform her we had Julian in our tight little clutches!!
''With the money received to date Hari has ordered 600 sets of corrugated iron (8 sheets/set) and these arrived in Jibajibe as we arrived so we were able to witness the unloading and initial distribution to the first needy families on the list. What an incredible feel good!!!
''We do need the donations to keep rolling in as all donations to HHCP received to date will put a roof over 712 families heads and we are still hoping to be able to provide another 288 roofs. We understand donors may have already emptied their pockets completely, so it is important to keep spreading the word about the good work of High Himalayan Community Project Nepal and the huge support of this project by Reach out Nepal. Massive blessings again to all.
''I am going back to the village again on Sunday with Julian to have a huge working bee and help Hari's family clean up
the rubble of their house and try to rebuild one of the lower rooms to a large enough capacity that it will become a dry store room for the upcoming monsoon season. So that will be an interesting week with the heat, dust etc. Can't wait!!
A positive will be that in this area they don't use poo to seal the walls so we won't be having to dip our hands in s... and smear it on the walls!!
15 May 2015
that is so greatly revered by the locals, there were many hundreds of lives lost in this area. So sad .......
With respect to the rural area of Rasuwa, Margot has provided an update below on the villages not previously mentioned in the reports of 2 and 4 May.
13 May 2015
A 5.5 magnitude aftershock was felt in the early morning when people were asleep. We can only imagine how terrifying continued earth tremours would be.
12 May 2015
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake centred on the town of Namche Bazaar to the north east of Kathmandu once again caused loss of life and sent fear into the hearts of Nepalese people. Both Hari and Margot are unhurt by the recent tremors in Kathmandu.
11 May 2015
Australian volunteer Margot Dalbroi arrived in Kathmandu starting to work with Hari on a plan forward, and if possible, catch up with all our sponsored children. The monsoon season is approaching so there needs to be a reasonably sure but swift plan of action as to the immediate, and then longer term safety and comfort of these families into the future.
10 May 2015
Hari Devkota has returned to Kathmandu after 10 days in his village of Jibajibe which is in the most affected area of Nepal. Hari writes he is going to buy more necessary basic supplies for his villagers again soon. Homeless people are looking for at least a temporary shelter for oncoming monsoon season.
Hari is considering the options of how best to use money donated through RONEP. The cheapest option is big plastic tarpaulins (tarps) which are in very high demand now and Rasuwa district needs about 9,000! An advantage of these tarps is they can be folded and moved to a safer area any time. Another option is to set up a temporary house using zinc/tin sheets . They can be used for several years and also for new buildings in the future. Food and other basic needs are also a priority right now, especially sincegovernment initiatives cannot be relied on. Money to buy items such as rice, beaten-rice, cooking oils, instant noodles, biscuits, blankets etc is preferred otherwise there is the problem of safely storing bulk items.
8 May 2015
The village of Jibajibe has been declared 'safe' with running water, electricity restored (albeit very very little), and the sanitation given the thumbs up.
7 May 2015
RONEP sponsored young adult at Glen Buds, Ramesh, says "The Nepali Chartered Accountants Fraternity in New Delhi has collected relief materials for the victims and they have been using the Glen Buds School classrooms as Store which they will use until the school reopens. I am doing my part by looking after the things they store. I might also be able to go to the victims to distribute those things once the other cargo arrives.”
6 May 2015
Nava Raj Baral, Principal of Glen Buds School in Kathmandu says in spite of a series of earthquakes the entire Glen Buds family is safe and secure. The tremendous shock followed by continuous minor shocks and rumours regarding the spread of cholera made life really terrible and a quarter of the Kathmandu population left the valley. However as minor shocks slowly started disappearing from yesterday, life is gradually returning to normal. "We are planning to resume the regular classes from Sunday 17th May.
4 May 2015
Betang Village has no buildings remaining with unconfirmed losses of life.
Langtang Village high up in the Rasuwa Distric was completely decimated by a massive landslide caused by the earthquake. The only building of over 50 guest houses left standing is one that appears to be nestled under a large overhanging rock. All 475 or so of these villagers lost their lives.So much sadness for these beautiful peaceful people.
Margo heard from Harikrishna and the only buildings left standing in Jibajibe Village are the 10 to 15 cement houses along the marketplace or bazaar and the hospital. There are however small cracks in the hospital joins. Jibajibe had a large loss of life with over 160 confirmed dead. It can also be confirmed Jibajibe High School and North Pole school are standing although damaged. All other houses that have been built with stone and mud are gone. So many many homeless. It is still not confirmed how many lives have been lost in the village of Jibajibe, although Hari is of the opinion that many of the sponsor children are alive. He is planning on setting out on foot tomorrow to go further afield and gain further information on children/families not yet accounted for. Ghormu Village has been completely destroyed with miraculously only 1 loss of life.
Sarsiu Village has been completely destroyed with 4 lives lost.
The area has a water supply still, although no electricity and don't know when the lines will be repaired.
The Nepali army are now getting approx 10 helicopters daily to this area dropping tin for makeshift housing, tents, rice and sugar. Harikrishna has also been purchasing medical supplies, tin, tents, rice and sugar with donations made.
25 April 2015
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April 2015 was equivalent to 20 atom bombs, and the aftershocks of 6.8 were bigger than the quake that brought Christchurch to its knees in 2010! More than 8,000 people died. Many of the heritage listed tourist icons in Kathmandu were brought to the ground.
The earthquake devastation in the District of Rasuwa was much worse than Kathmandu being closer to the epicentre and there are very few concrete or earthquake resistant dwellings. Many villages have lost all their standing buildings, livestock and there has been much loss of life.