Brad’s Blog from Nepal
My flight was delayed in the UK but thankfully after a jog in Delhi I arrived in Kathmandu only an hour later than scheduled.
I was met by Ram who drove us to his house where he and his wife have kindly hosted me for the week.
I had the privilege of meeting, Kailash, the father of Prahbat, Vicci’s (Cyrilyn’s life-long friend) husband. (See Photo)
After well needed sleep, I woke suddenly at around 5am. Weird thing was I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. We later found out that there was a mild aftershock around that time which must have woken me, but I can’t say I felt it.
Early in the morning the team loaded 200 food parcels, the knitted blankets, hats and gloves (THANK YOU LOVING HANDS!!!) into the vehicles and we headed east to a very remote area. It took 8 hours to travel 140km along the most rugged and exposed mountain roads. There were times I was just a few feet away from a 3000 ft near vertical drop to a river flowing from the Himalayas. Definitely need a head for heights in Nepal.
We passed through a dozen landslides and thousands upon thousands of damaged or completely destroyed homes.
The police told us that crowds were looting aid vehicles where we were heading. This was due to the poor response. They kindly escorted us to Cherikot (regional town). It was here that we were informed that because of the looting, aid had to be dropped off at the district officials office and they would then distribute it. Our team decided that we would not do this as we could not then guarantee that the aid would get to the people that needed it most. The local team went and spoke to the district director and after a lengthy conversation we were granted permission to distribute. So we headed off, not knowing what would await us round each bend but knowing we needed to do all we possibly could to get to these people.
Thankfully we arrived without incident. It was surreal, after driving for what seemed like an age, we just stopped in the middle of nowhere and people suddenly appeared from the steep hillside above and below. Over the next few hours we had the privilege to distribute the food, blankets and warm hats to hundreds of families in three different villages. This was the first aid any of them had received since the earthquake.
In this area a family is in the minority if they are able to live in their house. Everywhere I looked houses have been damaged or destroyed, their food, clothing and belongings trapped in the rubble. People were building whatever makeshift shelter they could and then making a start trying to rebuild their homes. I saw mothers and children carrying slate tiles and wood and men using their bare hands to shift the rubble.
To make matters worse, it has rained several times since I have been here. Rain and hail on steroids is the way I would describe it. I can’t imagine how the thousands of people I have seen will cope with simply a plastic sheet against this strength of rain. Monsoon season is fast approaching and they will endure day after day of solid torrential downpour.
To bring things closer to home, we had to stay the night in Cherikot because it was after dark when we finished. That road at night…. unthinkable. I came fully prepared to camp and live self contained and I am glad I did. I had enough kit for the team and after dinner we set up camp on one of the few public fields. We experienced something of what many Nepalese are experiencing and were all sobered by the experience. We were at an altitude of around 7000 feet and it not only rained but it was very cold. The Monsoons next and then winter. I feel the real suffering is ahead. There have also been a number of aftershocks and people are scared. While we were driving through a village on the China highway we noticed people running out of their shops while the earth shook. Not pleasant.
We are now prepared to head out again tomorrow. This area to the north west has seen more casualties than the one we visited yesterday.
The team here in Nepal are truly amazing and are committed to go above and beyond for their people.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. There is so much more I could share but this is a blog, not a book, so i am trying to keep it short.
I will let you know how tomorrow goes.
Getting into bed and then another aftershock. Just a creaking of the wooden windows and the water in my water bottle moving.
Grab bag ready and earthquake detection system in place (upside down water bottle on the edge of the table)
Sent from my Windows Phone