The April 2015 Nepal earthquake killed more than 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000. It occurred on 25 April, with a magnitude of 7.8. Its epicenter was east of Gorkha District at Barpak, Gorkha.
(Galleries with pictures down the article)
The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 21, and triggered another huge avalanche in the Langtang valley, where 250 people were reported missing.
Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless with entire villages flattened, across many districts of the country. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley. A major aftershock occurred on 12 May 2015.
Himalayan Care Hands Nepal and Holland joined forces and started immediate relief programs in Nuwakot and Ramecchap, area’s that were affected severely.
On May 9 a second convoy of Himalayan Care Hands Nepal left for Nuwakot. The arduous drive through the mountains took about 4 hours. Because of the rain, the dirt roads turned into hazardous mud flows. Still, the team managed to reach the center of the villages by noon where all population were eagerly looking forward to the relief supplies.
The packages were aimed at a “1 month for one family” survival program, containing food, blankets and personal supplies. But our arrival had not gone unnoticed. In addition to the 150 already hard-hit families suddenly 130 more hungry families turned up from the area and stood in line to be helped. A tragic image.
The team immediately started to redistribute the existing packages so that everyone can be helped. But this is not an easy task, because the cry for help and the frustration among the population is high. They are exhausted, sleeping in makeshift tents and are hungry.
Yet the team is able to restore order and try to convince people to follow some basic rules for an orderly process.
At the same time biodata are being collected to map the size of households regarding the exact needs and to achieve a fair distribution of the relief supplies. As we write this update, this process is going on and the team decided to half the packages for now in order to help all.
Boardmembers Wilfried Vander Meeren, Albert Kampermann and later on Luc Reynders went after 3 weeks after the quake with emergency funds of Euro 11.000 (which in the coming weeks would raise to Euro 20.000) to Nepal. Here some of their impressions:
We plan about the temporary mobile housing containing bamboo sticks which roofs of corrugated aluminum sheets attached. Within an isolation of a kind of foam rollers. One such ‘shelter’ for a family with two children can be built within 1-2 days. It also endures easily even for years. We started with the idea and talk to our team in Kathmandu about the plan to help with our emergency funds to help families before the rainy season begins.
After a few days Himalayan Care Hands joins forces with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development. This Ministry oversees all affected areas in Nepal and identifies the relief programs and its progress. So they try to prevent “double” help and encourage relief activities at the same time to places where there was yet no help. As in the case of the villages in and around Kathior, near the epicenter of the second quake. It is about 200 km or 5 hours drive southeast of Kathmandu in Ramechhap District in the Janakpur Zone. The poor, mostly illiterate population belong to a lower caste. The Ministry does have a list of names from the village so that aid can be distributed to this group. Together with the Ministry, a local Lions club we are targeting to provide and built for families 60 temporary houses of corrugated sheets.
Today I heard the story of an old woman who has experienced the earthquake 80 years ago. In her completely destroyed village, she found all the inhabitants, sad and sitting on the rubble and staring ahead. “Why are you all just sitting,” she asked them. “It’s meaningless.
Why are you all just sitting?
Everything is destroyed, who knows what still happens” they said. “True,” said the old lady, “when the quake hit us long time ago, we also had to sleep a month on the field, under the stars, sometimes with rain. But we did rebuilt our homes, our schools, our markets and roads. And we can do it again.” It was exactly that these people needed, that experience of that old lady who had been through this before. More than 80 years ago the temples and pagodas also came down in all the durbar squares, and the tower Dahara collapsed also in that time.
Kathjor / Ramecchap, 24 May 2015 – With 25 volunteers from the Nepal Congress Party (from the popular politician Gagan Thapa) and board members of Himalayan Care Hands Nepal and Holland the convoy of truck and bus departed from Kathmandu to Ramechhap, one of the worst areas affected by the earthquakes in Nepal. A journey of over 5 hours to the east of the capital. The road is good to Ramechhap where the destruction of the disaster become clear from the many, collapsed farms. Everywhere we see tents next to the once typical in style built manor houses. Tents made of plastic stretched over bamboo roofs. Roofs of empty rice sacks and construction plastics.
Holes are drilled into the ground where bamboo poles rise up. It is all measured. We are offered tea. Who has nothing, gives everything.