It is now a week since a 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal, changing the lives of many thousands of people in barely more than a minute. To date there have been over 6,000 confirmed fatalities, and with the Nepal Army and police changing their focus from rescue to search, this figure is likely to rise as more bodies are recovered from the wreckage. An estimated 150,000 Nepalis have left Kathmandu to return to their home districts, support extended families and join their communities.
CHANCE has never before been involved in disaster relief, but the scale of the catastrophe is impossible to ignore, and with our contacts and access to supplies we have been doing what we can to bring aid to those whose lives have been turned on their heads.
One of our first priorities was to account for the children and families we have been supporting through school by your generosity. This was not an easy task, as many live in rural communities that are difficult to reach. It took us a few days, and if you have been following our posts on Facebook you will know the worries we had, but we are delighted to say that all the families are now accounted for. There were no injuries and no fatalities.
Although some have lost their homes and will need to rebuild, the most important thing is they are all safe and well. One child has been traumatised and requires counselling, and we are trying to arrange a qualified professional for her. On Thursday we took tarpaulins, tents and other supplies to the families. All are in good spirits and together with their communities.
All members of the Board for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award have been busy during the last week. Here’s a short summary of what some of them have been doing:
- Sumnima Tuladur has been continuing to work for her regular employer CWIN. She has been coordinating the mapping and location of displaced children through information she has sourced from hospitals.
- Chandrayan Shrestha has been working as a volunteer for CWIN.
- Suman Shakya has set up a community-based operation called Nepal Rises to coordinate relief. They are the country representative for Life Saver water purification systems, which they are trying to get into the country. CHANCE trustee Tina has connected them with the UK Department for International Development (DfID) to help arrange this.
- Sneh Rana is at SOS Children’s Village in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha in southern Nepal, assisting with life support at the village and fundraising.
- Dawa Steven Sherpa is coordinating logistics for vehicles providing relief.
- Chimmi Gurung is managing community-based support for the Manang Youth Society.
- Milan Dixit has been supporting her husband, a prominent Nepali journalist.
- CHANCE trustee Tina Stacey Ghale is part of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) crisis team, based at the British Embassy in Kathmandu.
Community support and NGO-based activity has been incredible, though this has now been halted temporarily after the Nepal Finance Ministry issued a statement saying all incoming funds will be diverted through a central-government relief fund. We hope this decision will be lifted soon. Government protocol has meant there have been delays getting aid into the country. Airport and land border imports require official paperwork, and duties need to be paid. There have been protests by Nepali citizens, who are dismayed at the speed of response and do not trust the government, and you may have read about these or seen them the news.
The FCO are currently advising against all but essential travel to Nepal. Here’s who to contact if you have friends or family in Nepal:
- complete the online form
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- calling on +44 207 008 0000
- text NEPAL to +447860010026. You will then receive a reply. Please respond with your details.
These are hard times, but we would like to thank all our friends of Nepal for the overwhelming response, good wishes and support we have had over the last week.
Please continue to help if you can by making a donation to the DEC Nepal Earthquake Appeal or to CHANCE, or simply by sharing via Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere.