Letter from the president of FRADS, Anup Shrestha to our team:
As we all know, the recent incident that happened in Nepal is of epic proportion. Although we all knew Nepal is at very high risk of such earthquake(s), we as a nation were least prepared for it. From the day it began, 25th Apr till today we are all terrorized and still uncertain how this ordeal will end. The death toll is over 8000 already and many more thousands are injured.
In wake of such a disaster, it was very generous of our donors to divert our funds towards relief of victims of earthquake. Knowing we had funds to help, we immediately sprung into action and started collecting material which was deemed essential to survive. This obviously being, tarpauline to use as roof over their head, blanket to keep them warm and mattress to sleep on. We gathered these items immediately although we had trouble acquiring tarpaulins as all the stock ran out from the shop in whole country and consequently we had to use our network to acquire from India. Thankfully, our government was also aware of the situation and hence waived custom duty on such items.
We designed our distribution plan in two phases / trips. The first trip was based on impulsive reaction, so without much though we sent two jeep full of relief material. The 1st trip was headed by one of our committee members Pemba Kaji Sherpa, along with Bhuwan Maharjan of our project and also a local from Bamti Bhandar who was quite resourceful and acted as security to make sure our relief reached at the top and not stolen or robbed along the way.
After the first visit, it was clear, the place was not in need of food material but tents, since most of the houses were partially damaged and people preferred to sleep outside of their houses. At this time, we were the only organization reaching such remote places in Ramechhap and distributing relief. Local people were very thankful and they requested more tarp fearing from coming monsoon.
After the first trip, we didn’t think long to prepare a second trip. For us it was very clear, take more relief material and take pictures of ruins due to earthquake, especially schools. We then collected more material and left hastily. This time, I went myself along with an engineer, to assess the damages. We were very hopeful to rebuild schools quickly as the initial report and pictures showed damages but not total destruction. However, on the second day after visiting Those we headed for Bamti and that is when everything fell apart literally. The whole thing unfolded in front of us. Our relief carrying vehicle had already reached Bamti before the quake so people were very fortunate to have all this material because right after the earthquake the roads were blocked.
After second quake, virtually there are no houses standing without any damages. more than 99% of the houses are unfit for living. If the earthquake hasn’t flattened it then they will needs excavators to do so. Whatever it may be all the houses and schools from Those onwards have to be rebuilt. The question now is not how to fix the damages but how to remake new buildings for children which is affordable, quick to build and more importantly earthquake proof so all children can start learning in safe and peaceful environments.
This earthquake has indeed caused huge loss but it could have been even worse. Both major quakes were in day time and therefore, people were out and about doing their work. First quake was on Saturday, meaning all our schools were closed and therefore, no casualties or injury in school premises. I cannot even dare to imagine if this quake had hit us on a normal working day or during middle of the night.
So this has been a biggest eye opener to all of us. To the government, to the people and to all the stakeholder who are one with Nepal in time of need.
During our trip, our project area was cut off from Kathmandu and other major cities due to landslides in numerous places. I along with my team made it a priority to open the road first, we couldn’t bare the thought of sick and injured getting stuck there due to lack of road access. We made it our priority and we spoke with responsible people who could make this happen and our effort paid off. We collected money from local people to pay for excavator, we got the whole village involved in it and everyone was happy to see vehicle coming into the village after getting stranded for days. I also had to ditch my motorbike in landslide to save myself. I was hoping it wont get lost. Luckily on our way back it was safely kept in nearby settlement, just as I had left it. I had even left the key in the bike the whole time.
After successfully managing to clear the road I then visited our Kinderhaus. For me it was a bitter sweet experience. I was happy to see all the children were safe and still smiling, but seeing their house in ruins was really sad. I was also very impressed with Kalyan and his wife on how well they have managed to keep the children safe. Not just one but two major earthquake, which ripped their house apart.
I also visited Phati children and listened to the concerns they have, which I will be discussing with our FRADS committee this weekend.
Still our project area needs more tarp so we are in process of sending 500 more and this shall be the end of our 1st phase relief work.
Also, I would like to apologize to KVB and Childaid network for over shooting of our budget of 10,000 Euro. With this budget it was just impossible to serve our project area. it also made me realize that our project area is too far and wide apart and perhaps we should consider contracting our area of operations.
Thank you very much and warm regards