Print Edition - 2015-05-15  |  Earthquake Relief

Taking relief to remote areas

- KALA RAI, Kathmandu
Taking relief to remote areas

May 14, 2015-

After helping people out in Sindhupalchok, Kavrepalanchok and Bhaktapur, our team had returned home to our families. I was at home when I received a call from Rasuwa.

“It has been five days, don’t we deserve relief?” A slightly infuriated but fatigued voice said. “I am not asking anything for myself but people in the Yarsa VDC are in dire straits. On top of that, it has started raining.” It was Kumar Ghalan on the phone.

As per his information, we immediately formed a team of 12 people—which included the teachers of Golden Peak High School along with Principal Chhatra Mani Rai, members of Ojaswi Nepal, Rita Thapa and Kalika Shiwakoti, and two volunteers from Shangri-La Orphanage Home—and headed for Rasuwa on May 8 with relief material sufficient for 166 households.

While relief was pouring into the country from several quarters, it was hard to believe that it had not reached Rasuwa yet. But from our earlier mission, we knew how dire the situation was in the more remote areas. A week earlier, while travelling to Dhansar at Kakani VDC in Nuwakot, we were stopped by groups of angry locals in five different places, demanding the supplies for themselves.

After we embarked for Rasuwa, even before reaching Nuwakot, we witnessed scuffles between people, for relief, in three different places. A team led by the Armed Police Force DSP Kabindra Rai, who had reached Bidur in the district from Kathmandu, assured us that it was safe to move ahead.

Amidst trouble and fright, we reached Kalikasthan in Rasuwa at around 8 pm. Upon reaching the area, we were informed by a local that three truckloads of supplies had reached the place where we were about to go to. So we decided to consult former lawmaker Prem Tamang for advice. We learned that Ramche, Tiru, Dhunche, Goju, Gatlang, Bhorle and Laharepauwa were among the places that needed immediate support.

After some investigation, we decided that we had to leave for Yarsa VDC, where the people were going through a very difficult time. Only 25 sacks of rice, 20 tarpaulins and some quantity of beaten rice had reached the village after the second quake had struck. Even that had been held from distribution as it was not enough to split between people in equal rations.  Another earthquake shook us at around 3 am the next day, adding to the fear that had already gripped us. The epicentre was somewhere between Rasuwa and Nuwakot. But we still decided to travel to Yarsa, and along with the help of locals Dawa, Nima and Prem, we loaded the supplies in a tipper. As for the team, we got into a school bus, which was being driven by Kumar Ghalan. After passing through Syaubari and Bhorle villages along the unpaved road, we reached Arukharka in Yarsa in about two hours.

People had crowded in several places along the road waiting for relief. After their houses were ravaged, livestock killed and seeds for the next harvest lost, they had nothing left.

Around 250 people were waiting for us in Arukharka. While preparing a name-list for relief distribution, I had the opportunity to talk to a few of them.

“The earthquake did not take me away but it took away a milk-giving buffalo and six young people in the village,” 90-year-old Gyalmu told me in her local dialect.

The earthquake had rendered everyone in the village homeless, but some had even worse stories to tell.

Fourteen-year-old Man Bahadur had lost his mother, the sole breadwinner of the house, to the quake. His father has been paralysed since before the disaster. Now, the responsibility of looking after his nine-year-old brother, six-year-old sister and a handicapped father was upon his shoulders.

There was a Dalit settlement of ten households in Arukharka. We distributed tarpaulins, blankets, salt and cooking oil there as well. And since the school bus could not carry back all the material we had taken along, we left the remaining for the locals to distribute among themselves.

But before we left, we got a piece of advice from Nima, a local. “People who bring relief should bring enough for all, like you people did,” Nima said. “This does not lead to any tussle between the victims.”

Published: 15-05-2015 08:25

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