An update on relief provided by Sewa International
A major earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 resulting in more than 8600 casualties and 18,000 injured. It seriously affected more than 12 districts and 8 million people. A powerful aftershock on May 12 caused a further 150 casualties and thousands more were made homeless. Around 1500 schools have been damaged, hurting the student community. More than one-quarter of dead are children under 10 years old.
A tragedy of this scale was not expected by anyone in Nepal and a lack of disaster preparedness was evident everywhere. In these desperate times of colossal humanitarian crisis, local partners of Sewa International, led by HSS Nepal, along with Indian Government/Armed Forces, were among the first responders to the disaster and stepped in to provide rescue/relief to our Nepalese brethren.
Several Mandirs, Muths and heritage buildings of archaeological/historical importance have been destroyed in quake affected parts of Nepal including Kathmandu.
These include Patan Krish-na Mandir, Patan Darbar Square, Basantpur Hanu-man Dhoka Darbar square, Bhaktapur Darbar square and Taleju Mandir. The loss of the historically and culturally important Bhim-sen Dharahara (a 9-storey tower) is probably the worst loss. The only saving grace is that Pashupatinath temple shrine is relatively unaffected and is still open to all, giving Nepalese people something to cheer about.
Our volunteers swung into the rescue and relief work just 3 hours after the devastating earthquake on April 25 and started distributing drinking water, rice, Chevda, snacks and tarpaulins as an immediate relief in many areas of Nepal.
They were the first responders in many districts, such as Bhaktapur, to help find survivors. They also worked in tandem with the Nepalese government rescue team in helping them to clear dead bodies and providing immediate medical help including baby deliveries. A team of doctors from Arogya Bharati, National Medicos Organization & many other groups, joined the rescue/relief with medicines and medical kits that have saved many lives.
Since the deadly earthquake, the relief material is being distributed in each of the 12 worst affected districts of Nepal, with over 90% of buildings destroyed in some cases.
The volunteers have tried to reach far-flung villages in some of these districts, which are located at high altitudes (some over 10000 feet), to provide relief material to the people in distress. There had been a demand for tarpaulins for protecting the families from the elements and foodstuff like rice, yellow/black gram, biscuits, milk powder etc., which are being supplied by our volunteers through supplies received by air/road/rail routes. HSS-led organizations have successfully deployed more than 1600 local volunteers for the rescue and relief operations and have reached more than 300 villages/560 wards to date in those districts.
The deadly earthquake and powerful aftershocks had created a great sense of panic in the residents of the affected regions. Hundreds of thousands of houses have been destroyed or left unviable, creating huge demand for tarpaulins/tents for immediate shelter. Our volunteers have worked ceaselessly to arrange for shelters of the affected people, even in the most remote regions of Nepal. A few times, we had to face people’s ire when we ran short of tents/tarpaulins, but our volunteers, through the trust that they generated among local people, were always able to convince and ensure shelter for all. With the impending monsoon season, there is a need for a temporary shelter, which can withstand heavy rains. For that, our organisations are working with the government of Nepal for a working mechanism in order to provide zinc/tin sheets and other materials for temporary shelter.
Stories that inspire…
Bharat — Reason to Smile
I met a team of 8 doctors representing Arogya Bharati, Haryana state who had an experience to share. The bus carrying these doctors was headed towards Jalbire, a village close to the Chinese border. However, the bus came to a halt due to a landslide. The doctors with the kits of medicines decided to walk rest of the distance to Jalbire, only to find that there was an emergency case awaiting them. A pregnant lady was under-going labour pain and there was no one to attend. The local doctor at Public Health Center had directed the lady to Kathmandu hospital due to it being a complicated case. The team of doctors swung into action and operated the lady inside the ambulance itself to successfully deliver a baby boy. The newborn was named “Bharat” in consultation with the family and father of the boy. It proved to be a moment of joy for the whole village and a time to celebrate amidst devastation.
Sugreeva — The Inspiring Hero
Handling dead bodies is the last act that anyone would like to do, but when there are hundreds of dead bodies to be handled during the calamity, no one would dare to touch. It was the similar story for a couple of days at the Teaching Hospital mortuary. Police personnel deployed there preferred to look the other way as the bodies arrived.
Yet, a young man stood constantly throughout the week after the terrible earthquake, handling every dead body arriving, embalming as many as one can, packing them with sheets, helping the relatives of the dead to identify their near & dear who have died, or whatever came his way. Other volunteers were doing their turns, able to work for 2-3 hours at a go and then break while this person continued without break. The hospital doctors and staff were so very impressed that they even offered to employ him, which he simply declined. He received an award from hospital due to his extraordinary service.
The trauma of handling dead bodies is enormous and yet this young man never complained, no murmur, just performing his duty without expectation of name, fame or money, absolutely nothing. His dedication to the cause is unique, and makes him a true “Karmayogee”. When a journalist inquired where he received the training in handling dead bodies or embalming them, he responded that he had never done this job earlier, this was the first time he performed this. He is an activist like many others and is presently a full timer for Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Bihar. He might have handled close to 250 bodies in total within a week, a sort of record. This young man is Sugreeva, a true hero.
Trust begets Trust
Natives of Charghare Gavisa, Nuwakote district resorted to public agitation on the road. The protest stopped the traffic on the road for hours. The villagers had not received any relief material for almost 9 days after the earthquake.
A group of volunteers, who were travelling along the route and had to stop, met the protesters and calmed them down with a promise that they would be back with relief within 24 hours.
The villagers were delighted to find the group back in village next day morning with relief material. A pracharak of HSS, Teerthraj Khanal, led this group and distributed the material. The district Superintendent of Police Sobodh Ghimire applauded the efforts by talking to Teerthraj on phone and guided him to more such places.
One of the beneficiaries in Charghare Gavisa, Nuwakote was a widow with 9 children who had to take shelter beneath a Banyan tree. All 10 of them lived with little food for almost 9 days. The lady and her children returned to village after some persuasion and received the relief material.
ReBuild Nepal — Next Phase
Sewa International Nepal in coordination with HSS and other partner organizations in Nepal, is planning to take up a short term rehabilitation program soon after concluding the relief operations, keeping in mind the ensuing monsoon. Providing a temporary kind of roof is essential such as tin/zinc sheets with a structure to support it. The student community is badly affected with most of the school buildings destroyed by the quake. They would be provided support for their education immediately by building community shelters as temporary schools. Sewa International Nepal would decide on the long-term rehab for the benefit of the earthquake affected soon. Sewa International Nepal looks forward to international support from our respected donors in course of time for the short/long-term Nepal rehabilitation program.
Relief Materials Information (Till 14 May)
- Rice 600.00 Quintals
- Tarpaulins 20759 Nos.
- Blankets 25152 Nos.
- Biscuits 37314 packets
- Noodles 15208 packs
- Gur (Jaggery) 17061 Kgs
- Puffed Rice 20799 Kgs
- Wheat flour 5800 Kgs
- Edible oil 393 Kgs
- Sugar 100 Quintals
- Salt 1877 kgs
- Clothes (new) 483 sacks
- Yellow gram (Daal) 915 kgs.
- Potato 1600 bags (50Kg each)
In addition, water bottles, mats, Candles, Torch-lights, Matchboxes, Umbrella, etc.
- Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Nepal
- Jan Kalyan Pratisthan, Nepal
- Pragyik Vidyarthi Parishad, Nepal
- Janjati Kalyan Ashram, Nepal
- Pashupati Shiksha Prasar Samiti, Nepal
- Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Nepal
- Sewa International, Nepal
Supported Nepal Districts
For donations and more information visit www.sewauk.org