I have struggled with my blog following the earthquakes here, but now as I contemplate my holiday, in a few weeks time back home to the UK, I have decided to get back into it.
So much has already been written about what it feels like to be in an earthquake. What I find more challenging is the frustration and despair, living through the now, over 400 aftershocks that have taken place on a daily basis.
VSO Team at the Futsal tournament – 16mins before the first quake struck.
Inaccessible routes back to damaged homes.
Our shelter for 4 days being erected.
Camping fun with Granny and Babu.
I have resided to categorising these aftershocks into those that feel like the earth has had a big fart, or those that feel like a bubbling cauldron, those feeling like an almighty shake of a cocktail flask and so on. It seems that just when you feel the aftershocks are dwindling, a big one comes along to reassure you that you cannot let your guard down.
Only damage in my flat, embarrassingly broken alcohol bottles.
Landlord’s garden office shelter for our neighbours.
Nothing stops Pramila cooking and feeds us all delicious Newari food.
Local festivities unaffected.
I am thankful that I have been able to adjust, I am not so scared anymore and wonder what it would be like to be on stable ground back in the UK. But many of my Nepali friends do not have the luxury to take a break from all this, especially now that the monsoon season is upon us, with the threats of landslides, particularly in those areas that have already suffered so much devastation.
Which brings me write about how inspired I have been by particularly, the Nepali youth here in Kathmandu. They were the first to take action with the relief work. They are a magnification of the resourcefulness and kind hearted qualities that I already witnessed with the majority of the Nepalis. In addition, my previous ‘showing my age’, sceptism about social media has been overturned. Facebook has made it easier for people to connect and coordinate activity. At this point I want to commend the efforts of the countless collectives such as, to name a couple, the Yellow House collective and Believers. Led by inspiring, unassuming individuals, these groups are not even formal Non Government Organisations, charities or any such entity, just phenomenally altruistic people, creatively collaborating together for a common cause. My Utopia. These volunteers self financed and were able to distribute aid to some of the most remote areas that the machination of government and the donor community appeared to ignore. Thankfully these collectives are exiting relief work, as the disaster rebuild phase kicks in and government and donors get working.
Yellow House volunteer co-ordination
Sunset at Yellow House
Clearing rubble in Sankhu (one of the heavily affected districts).
More Sankhu rubble clear out.
The earthquake final damage and loss count has currently been estimated as follows:
8,844 confirmed deaths
8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance
14 most-affected districts
598,401 houses destroyed and 283,585 damaged
Assessments indicate that over 35,000 classrooms have been destroyed directly affecting more than 1 million children
The Nepali people appear resilient and determined to bounce back. New homes and schools should eventually be built, fulfilling the actual community requirements, but in the meantime, people have to manage, despite the hardship and inconvenience, in their temporary shelters and classrooms.
In Kathmandu, life has pretty much returned to normal. Even my landlords have joined me back into our home after weeks of them camping out in the garden office, along with the neighbours and only me in the house. My office at the Ministry of Education got back to business as usual, almost straight away. Although the adjacent Prime Minister’s office has been badly damaged.
Opportunity for a clear out at the Ministry of Education.
More post earthquake office clear out.
Prime Minister’s Office
Damaged Prime Minister’s Office
I am hopeful that the amazing volunteerism, community spirit and social consciousness can be harnessed for the power of good in the country’s future political leadership.
Finally, to my family and friends, who were planning to visit, please do still come. Thankfully the UK has relaxed its Nepal travel restrictions and below is a great infographic putting the damage into perspective in a country so heavily reliant on the income from tourism now more than ever. After all, who would not want to experience a bit of shaking in the their lives, in a beautiful surrounding.
Nepal open to tourists.