Our team members who went to Sindhupalchowk are now back in Kathmandu, two vehicles having reached the VDC of Talamarang, where they were able to distribute some 600 tarpaulins as well as water purifiers and basic medical supplies. (VDC stands for Village Development Committee – the lowest administrative unit in Nepal). A rather chilling request that they have received is for supplies of quick lime to cover dead bodies and thus prevent the spread of disease. Meanwhile our Gorkha team has met with the authorities and been directed to villages where their assistance is most needed. We will only hear from them on their return.
An additional two vehicles have already left to each of the two districts carrying tarpaulins, as this is assessed as the greatest immediate need.
Further supplies are being mobilised from India. Srijana Shrestha, our Senior Programme Officer responsible for Safety as well as Gender and Social Equity, had just finished facilitating a partner workshop not far from Biratnagar when the earthquake occurred. Biratnagar lies in South-eastern Nepal, on the Terai – the plains area contiguous with India which has been largely unscathed by the earthquake. Srijana writes that being stuck there at least meant that she could help immediately with the procurement of tarpaulins, water purifiers, rehydration fluid, sleeping bags and basic medicine. Back now in Kathmandu, she and our finance officers are coordinating with our three Terai offices in Biratnagar, Janakpur, and Birgunj in continuing this procurement work.
Srijana is also responsible for liaising with our staff, ensuring their continued safety and that of their families. There is a strong sense of working together and supporting each other; to be participating in the relief effort gives a sense of purpose and pride. Yet at the same time, everyone remains traumatized by the enormity of what has happened. Some are also facing very difficult living conditions – unable to return to their homes due to safety concerns. Srijana is currently coordinating a check on the housing of all staff members.
Our international Project Officer Andrea Barrueto writes that she is fortunate that her home in Kathmandu is considered safe; nevertheless, “The situation is surreal: around our area, people are camping in their garden and in the evening we hear chatting, a bit like an outdoor festival. The temple nearby does a puja each evening most probably for the benefit of all of us. During the night we jump out of our beds into the open with each strong after-shake, as one cannot tell whether the shakes are big or small when they start. Close to us, there are many people who have lost their loved ones, their belongings and houses. Everyday new tragedies trickle in….”