Brad in Nepal: Day 3
Up early and back on the road.
This time we headed northwest towards Pokhara to the Dhading District. Driving out of Kathmandu on the second of two roads that service the city was interesting to say the least. The volume of traffic ascending and descending a mountain pass was incredible and how there aren’t more accidents alludes me.
After 2 hours of driving we turned off the main road and started ascending the steepest, dustiest, bumpiest, winding mountain track. As an African I have been on some pretty crazy roads, but these are on another level. We just kept climbing up the side of this steep mountain. Several times we had to get out and push, or walk while the truck struggled upwards.
After an hour we came to our first destination. Every single house in that village was damaged or destroyed. Our local contact had found out the names of the families in this and subsequent areas, whose houses had been destroyed. The team were careful to ensure that every one of these families received a food parcel.
It was here I met a woman whose daughter had a 3 week old baby. Our contact had arranged for her to come and collect a tent for mom and baby. Grandma walked over 2 hours to collect the tent. There are so many families that live isolated and subsistent lives, out of contact from the main roads.
We visited four villages in total and gave food to hundreds of families we know have lost their homes, and for the children under 3 we gave the remaining blankets. I gave the second tent to a man whose wife had a 3 week old baby boy and the third tent to a lady who is nine months pregnant and about to pop. This lady was asleep when the earthquake hit and couldn’t get out quick enough. She managed to climb under her bed before the roof collapsed on her. She described being in darkness and when the dust settled she saw a slither of light. She then began digging herself out and managed to get out safely. Thankfully her baby is totally fine.
The children are feeling the impact of this disaster in so many ways. Their schools have been destroyed, safety at home has been degraded and the emotional and psychological impact is un-quantifiable. I met children from a school that had been completely destroyed. Totally unusable. 500 children that now have no school. This story is repeated across Nepal. UNICEF statistics are that 950 thousand children are not able to return to school.
This country needed help BEFORE the earthquake so it desperately needs help now.
The Nepalese work so hard trying to survive. Just looking at the terraces on the mountainsides full of healthy looking crops is inspiring. This is a reflection of the people. Many of the young men and women work abroad in Malaysia, India and the Gulf states. They are hired because of their solid work ethic.