Forgotten families – 10 minutes from death, the story of baby Arrush, a day of extremes and another lesson in gratitude.

Linda Nepal

 

Nepal 6

Salty sweat is pouring from my forehead making my eyes sting. My vision blurred, I stumble as I climb over a mound of slippery mud covered broken bricks, all that remains of Sitashmas family home that was flattened by the quake.

This young tiny Mum tells me how she had walked out of her parents house carrying her 8 month old baby just 10 minutes before it collapsed. As she pulls her small baby Arrush closer to her chest she shares her daily prayer of thanks for them both being  saved from certain death.

The arrival of our jeep to this remote mountain village of Devpur, standing at an altitude of 1,800 metres has created quite a stir. Since one group came and delivered rice to the village seven days after the first earthquake no one has been near them.

Nepal 2

It was a tough route to get there, especially the last 8kms, a steep dirt track made slippery and unstable by the heavy rains and deep mud tracks littered by large stones hurled down the mountainside by the landslides. Nepali friends had approached many jeep companies to take us there but on hearing the required destination all refused saying that it was too difficult.

Determined to reach there we did not give up until we found one fearless and thankfully experienced driver who would take us there.

Crammed into the jeep we bounced, slipped and maneuvered our way slowly up the track only needing to get out and push once. I must admit I kept my eyes firmly closed at times when the cliff edge seemed a little too close. The driver was fearless.

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As far as the eye could see was complete devastation not a building left standing in this mountain village. As I looked across the valley the story was the same. Bright plastic sheets covering bamboo poles, the most basic and temporary shelter, standing next to each pile of bricks.

Amidst the piles of rubble a red plastic chair appeared for me to sit on, and a small group of villagers gathered. An elderly man stood leaning on a stick to  share the villagers fears and worries. Devpur survives on farming, it is an agricultural village, the 9 villagers that died were resting in their houses after l lunch before returning to the fields.

 

Nepal 2It was obvious that this is a resilient and hard working farming community, everyone, man woman and child playing their part.

The elderly man was adamant that they did not need to be given food, they are able to grow enough to feed themselves, their simple twice daily diet of dahl bat, consisting of rice, lentils and vegetables.

But many of their livestock were killed in the quake; buffaloes, cows, goats and chickens. And the animals that did survive are suffering, they have no  shelter left standing to shield them from the intense heat and rain. This exposure to the elements is making the animals weak and sick.

The positive attitude and emotional resilience of the villagers was humbling.

What they desire more than anything is to be fully self sufficient again, they don’t want hand outs, they want a hand up. Their wish is to have their livestock replaced and for their remaining animals to have a shelter and be well again.

You can imagine after a day spent on the frontline here in Nepal I return tired, dirty, a tad emotionally drained but very grateful as I wash my hands under a cool tap.

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It is almost three months since the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal at 11.56am NST on April 25th with the epicentre 80kms north west of the capital Kathmandu.  Followed by another huge earthquake (6.8) on May 12th.

After the 25th April earthquake more than 1,000 aftershocks happened in the first 24 hours ( that’s 3 shakes every 2 minutes), and then a terrifying 30,000 jolts during the subsequent month. Hard to even begin to imagine . And they continue ….on just June 24th we had a 4.0 magnitude shake. No wonder the people live in daily fear.

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My humanitarian career now spans 15 years and I have assisted in livelihood recovery in many natural catastrophic disasters – my mission always to reach the forgotten families in the farthest flung areas and give them a hand up. My mission in Nepal is the same.

Love from Linda on the frontline x

 

 

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