29 Jun Caught in the earthquake, delivering aid.
Our own Bill Crozier gets caught in the second earthquake whilst delivering aid. He reports back on the heartbreaking scenes in Nepal, where he went over to help out using his skills as a doctor. I asked him to write a blog, so you guys could see why and where your money was needed.
Hello everyone involved with the Basecamp.
Well done on the remarkable fund raising.
I thought I should give you some insight into the reason for your efforts and where the money needs to go.
I returned from Nepal one week ago having spent a month there.
The first major quake was on 25 May. I was booked to trek but when that was cancelled I decided to go over and help out in any way I could.
I had been to Kathmandu many times over the last 12 years but nothing I’d seen on the news reports prepared me for how bad it was. Most buildings were still standing but every street had some fallen house or visible damage.
Durbar Square, the World Heritage Listed ancient centre of Kathmandu was devastated. Several temples had collapsed completely. The old white palace cracked beyond saving. The Kumari, the living godess’s house was still standing but damaged. Freak Street just as freaky.
Further afield I went to see the great temples at Boudhanath and Swayamabunath.
The Great Stupa at Boudhanath had lost a lot of it’s cement casing on the dome but more critically the large blocks near the top, above the painted eyes, had been cracked and moved. Within the last two weeks scaffolding has been erected round it and repair efforts have begun.
Swayamabunath, the Monkey Temple, suffered severe damage when one of it’s towers collapsed and several of the monastery buildings completely destroyed.
Within a few days I’d arranged to accompany Ian Wall, a Kathmandu based trek leader and climber and an old friend of the Boningtons, to help deliver aid to his wife’s family’s village called Gumpathang in one of the hardest hit areas, Sindhupalchowk.
As soon as our 4WD left the Kathmandu valley we could see how extensive the devastation was. The homes in the countryside were simple stone and mud constructions, often built high up on unstable ground. Whole villages were flattened. As we drove up the valley it was clear that nowhere had been spared.
Our small group arrived at the village of Kattike just before 1.00 pm on 12 May. The second major quake hit just as I took a photograph of the already damaged main street.With no warning everything changed. Gravity moved around. A house fell in front of me. Rocks fell all around. Screams and dust filled the air. A massive landslide tumbled down the other side of the valley. I thought that people must be dead or seriously injured but fortunately, that day in Kattike, there were only minor injuries. In the area 120 people had died in that moment.
We were to stay in the village for two days with no way of contacting the outside world to say we were safe. The villagers carried on, as they must. They had tarpaulin shelters already after the first quake. They looked after us. We had a tent and water filtration but we had a steady supply of boiled potatoes and rice and dhall and even a couple of beers sent our way. Nevertheless the people were very much afraid. They’d lost everything and their future looked bleak.They were worried about more shocks and the imminent monsoon. Winter would follow in only a few months.
We started walking out on the 14th, two days after the quake. A six hour walk through new scenes of devastation brought us to a village with a truck that could take us to Kathmandu. The drive through the local capital of Chautara took us past 30 or 40 small villages, every single one of them flattened and uninhabitable. Bright orange and blue tarpaulins were the signs that people were simply trying to exist.
Ian and I did another trip, this time with a truck full of rice and tarpaulins, to his wife’s father’s village of Meghre in the district of Ramechhap to the east of Kathmandu. A ten hour drive and a two day stay meant we could deliver the goods and have a clinic for the villagers.
There is much more to tell but the simple facts are these;
10,000 people died in the earthquakes with tens of thousands more injured.
3 million people are without basic shelter apart from tarpaulins.
The monsoon is imminent. This will mean contaminated drinking water and many more people will die from dysentery and chest infections.
After the monsoon will come the winter with snow in the high villages. The young and the old will die of hypothermia.
The money raised is not just a drop in the ocean. Tarpaulins and corrugated iron sheets are cheap. Rice is plentiful but it needs to be transported from the Terai in the south of Nepal. Distribution is the main problem for the remote villages. Rebuilding is the next important issue. Schools and health posts are a priority. Advice and help with rebuilding homes is vital.
Joe’s Basecamp, with it’s network of friends and colleagues in Nepal, is well placed to act as a conduit for aid to get to where it’s needed. Many of us in Nepal were discussing how best to direct future efforts. Aid groups are active but the results of donations are usually unseen. It should be possible to help with financial support for specific projects in a chosen area. I hope that the money raised in future may be spent where the donors would like to see it spent and they can then see the result as a school is reopened or a village has a new community building or health post.
Regards to all who have worked hard to raise funds. The people of Nepal have nothing so every dollar is important. Thanks. Bill Crozier.