Winter approaches in Kathmandu


Dear friends, there follows an account written by Mandy Peacock, an occupational therapist and one of our founders who is currently in Nepal, volunteering at a mental health rehabilitation centre in Kathmandu. She and Soma Mahesan, also currently in Nepal, are now planning our next response to the earthquake situation as winter approaches.

Many children in villages face schooling (for the lucky ones) in flimsy, temporary classrooms with dirt floors in icy temperatures. We were also shocked to learn of a community whose village was completely destroyed, who are now camping out in central Kathmandu, and whose situation Mandy describes below.

We will be using some of our reserved funds from earthquake donations to bring immediate relief to this village as soon as we can source the supplies and get them delivered (which is challenging due to the current fuel crisis). We are also planning a Christmas appeal: “Warmth for Winter” based on the idea of a Belgian charity which is supplying a pair of shoes, two pairs of socks and a winter coat to each pupil in a remote village whose school has been destroyed. More information on the way…

For more on the fuel crisis in Nepal, see here.

Mandy’s Day…

I worked in the hospital until 3pm then headed to a tin sheet camp for people whose village in rural Nepal was destroyed in the earthquake so the whole village has been temporarily re-homed to the outskirts of Kathmandu. They desperately want to return to their village but it’s not possible as there is no road to get anywhere near there now plus the ground is so unstable that there is a fear that if they did the next monsoon would wash any rebuilt village away anyway.

They are living in such basic conditions in a noisy, dirty city far away from their rural home and all they are asking from Sansar Nepal is warm coats for the kids so they can remain warm in school, warm shoes for the kids, school stationery items and blankets for the elderly, infirm and breast feeding mothers, during the impending cold winter months.

I asked to see inside the tin shacks they are living in and saw an old chap huddled in a basic but clean and tidy, drafty (as not closed to the elements) tin hut not bigger than a shed. I am surprised they are only asking for blankets for the elderly and infirm, as I understand that they presently have 1 blanket to 3 people.

We heard about the camp through a trusted Nepalese contact who knows the young Tibetan woman called Uten and her sister who have decided to support the camp as much as they can. They have raised money to get the kids into a school nearby and have enough money to feed the 194 people until January 2016. The camp has received no government help.

I went with Nisha, who is a young friend and new board member of Sansar Nepal, and who acted as an interpreter in an intensive care field hospital for 2 weeks immediately after the quakes. She works as a teacher in Kathmandu, and straight after work today traveled 1.5 hours in cramped buses so that I had company in the camp.

After the camp meeting we had some noodles together until it got dark and afterwards she hailed a passing motor bike to hitch a lift as far home as she could, as buses appeared not to be running. She informs me that this is now the norm in Nepal due to the fuel crisis – people just help others who are not so fortunate to have transport…

Having left, Nisha I walked through a religious square near to where I am living, and where the large Buddhist stupa has been damaged by the earthquake. It was dark due to there being no electricity and, as I turned a corner, I was greeted by 100’s of candles. On closer inspection I observed that many Nepalese had gathered to light candles and were standing in quiet reflection with hand-made posters offering their support and affection to Paris, following the terrorist atrocities there.

Nepal this year has suffered devastating earthquakes, and is in the midst of a fuel crisis, with fast depleting fuel, gas and medical supplies such that people are cooking using wood, hospitals can not provide food and people with conditions such a diabetes and heart problems have no medicine. I would expect ordinary people to be drawn to the streets to protest about the conditions they are living in, but instead observe that when they do it is in a quiet, dignified manner to offer solidarity with Paris.

This is why I am always drawn to Nepal.