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Distributing emergency supplies in the mountains of Nepal

Crystal Wells and Kieran McConville | 19 May 2015 | 0 Comments

Concern Worldwide is distributing shelter and supplies to families in some of the hardest-hit districts of Nepal. In the last few days, distributions have taken place in mountainous villages across Dolakha and Sindhupalchok Districts.

Bhirkot, Dolakha District

Dolakha was the epicentre of the second 7.3 magnitude earthquake which rocked Nepal on 12 May. The destruction of rural homes as a result was almost total. Concern’s Crystal Wells witnessed the earthquake:

There was a really big aftershock – it shook the entire mountainside. It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced...People cried and wailed, terrified that their love-ones at home were killed.

Three days later, we returned to Bhirkot with local partner Rural Reconstruction Nepal to distribute essential supplies to 600 families affected by the earthquake.

Lal Kumari Magar

Lal Kumari Magar’s home was built in the traditional design used in the hills and valleys of Nepal – of brick and mud. Her home was completely destroyed in the earthquake. The eleven members of her family are now living under plastic on the ground in front of the ruins.

Lal and her granddaughter walked for an hour to Bhirkot for the emergency supplies distribution. As with other families, they received a tarpaulin, sleeping mats and blankets, rope, jugs, a jerry can and a family hygiene kit.

Lal Kumari Magar lost her home near Bhirkot, Dolakha District, Nepal in the 7.3-magnitude aftershock that hit Nepal on May 12th. Photo taken by Crystal Wells / Concern Worldwide.

A lot of our possessions were buried when the house collapsed and it has been very difficult to get anything out. These tarpaulins will help us make a proper tent and the blankets and mats will give us warm sleep. We have some big problems, but this makes me happy.

Talamarang, Sindhupalchok District

Talamarang is a village nestled in valley in Sindhupalchok District – one of the hardest hit areas by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April. Concern and Rural Reconstruction Nepal distributed emergency kits to 832 families here on 15 May.

Chameli Darji sits with her youngest daughter, Apita, in their makeshift shelter in Talamarang in Sindhupalchok District, Nepal, one of the hardest hit areas by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the country on April 25th. Photo taken by Crystal Wells / Concern Worldwide.

Chameli Darji has spent her entire life here. On the day of the earthquake, she was at home with her mother-in-law and two of her six children when the ground started to shake violently. The house next door collapsed, crashing down on top of theirs, burying her mother-in-law and son. While her son managed to crawl out from underneath the rubble, her mother-in-law did not survive.

Struggling families

The family is now living in a shelter made of scraps of rusty metal, wood and burlap sacks in a dusty schoolyard beside other displaced families. In the beginning, the family relied on the generosity of neighbours to eat, but as time passes, the family is struggling to get by.

We are getting a bit of food help…We got rice, lentils, oil and a bit of salt. This is all we have been eating…We haven’t had vegetables in a long time.

All of their food stocks are buried in the remains of their home. The family also lost some of their sewing machines – their sole livelihood – as well as most of their belongings. “My kids have been wearing the same clothes for 20 days,” she said. They had no carpet or sleeping mats and only one blanket, leaving most of the family to sleep on the sandy floor uncovered.

Chameli Darji with her youngest daughter, Apita, with the items they received at a Concern Worldwide and Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN) distribution in Talamarang VDC in Sindhupalchok district, Nepal. Photo taken by Crystal Wells / Concern Worldwide.

The Darji family received a full emergency shelter and relief kit at the distribution in Tamarang. For Chameli, the future is uncertain, but the supplies will help the families get through the coming weeks. “At least we can get a better sleep now,” she said.

Nepane, Sindhupalchok District

Laxmi Aryal, a widow, lives high in the foothills in Sindhupalchok District near Nepane, another village we visited recently to distribute aid. Like so many others in this area, her family’s home collapsed after the earthquake, leaving all of their belongings buried in the rubble. They have spent the last three weeks living in the open.

I have only one pair of clothes. When I wash them, I have to wait in my towel for them to dry and then I put them back on again.

The family also has only enough food to last them for another month. “We don’t know what we will do after that,” she said.

Laxmi Aryal packs up the items she received at a Concern WorldWide distribution in Talamarang  in Sindhupalchok district, one of the hardest hit areas by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April. Photo taken by Crystal Wells / Concern Worldwide.

Reaching rural communities

To reach the nearest road, Laxmi has to walk down the steep hillside for roughly an hour. Her family’s isolated location has meant that they were not reached by any other aid distribution for 20 days. “Only houses near the road get aid,” she said. “People up here are not informed.”

Rural Reconstruction Nepal and Concern gave communities in the four areas in which they distributed aid a day’s notice of their arrival. This allowed people like Laxmi time to travel down from the hills and not be left behind.

We were happy we were informed yesterday. A million blessings for you people.

Longer term support

Concern plans to distribute emergency kits to 14,000 families – aiming to reach 100,000 people in the process. As the monsoon approaches, we will move on to help build more durable accommodation to withstand the high winds and heavy rain expected over the next five months.

With many schools completely destroyed by the earthquake, we are also looking at ways to support emergency education provision. We will also support livelihoods by activating targeted cash transfer and cash-for-work schemes.

You can help

The Irish public has already donated over one million euro to the Nepal Earthquake appeal. But we still need your help. Please donate today.


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