Print Edition - 2015-05-25 | Earthquake Relief
Braving disaster to reach Barpak
May 24, 2015-
Eleven days after the April 25 earthquake, a team of 20 volunteers, from Kathmandu braved unsafe roads marred by fissures, landslides and rubble to walk to Barpak, the epicentre of the devastating quake.
“Apart from army personnel and a few journalists from Nepal and India, no one had reached there,” one of the volunteers, Mithila Jariwala, said, claiming that theirs was the first group to take relief to the village. “Locals had begun to build temporary shelters by themselves after their wait for outside help turned into frustration,” she observed.
The team, which had travelled to Barpak from Gorkha Bazaar, with about 50 porters carrying supplies, comprised youth from an unregistered group who call themselves Believers.
Out of the 1,470 houses in Barpak VDC, some 1,400 have been completely destroyed. The entire settlement of the Dalit community in the village was levelled to the ground, and the situation in Laprak and Gumda VDCs, both of which lie uphill from Barpak, was equally worse.
Indian NGO Goonj had helped the group by providing food and shelter equipment. Building a base camp in the village, the volunteers moved on to Laprak, where none of the houses were standing. Now, the volunteers have set out to Gumda with necessary aid.
Till date, the volunteers have distributed more than 500 tarpaulins, around 200 mattresses, more than 2000 blankets and about 70 tents, benefitting about 7,000 people from some 1,300 households in the VDCs of Aampipal, Dhawa, Gumda, Laprak, Lapsibot, Yamgaun and Barpak.
“We arrive at a place, visit each house, gather information, provide materials, use that village as our base and then move on to the next village,” another volunteer Jason Shah explained their approach. “But it is not just about taking supplies, it is also about facilitating distribution in the community.”
Apart from Gorkha, the group has supplied relief to more than 130 households in Dhading, 100 households in Dolakha, about 600 households in Kathmandu, about 80 households in Kavrepalanchok, more than 300 households in Nuwakot, 125 households in Ramechhap, about 330 households in Rasuwa and 250 households in Sindhupalchok.
Further, the volunteers also helped other organisations carry out relief operations in the districts. “We used our information and contacts to facilitate the operation of agencies such as the World Food Programme,” Jariwala said. The volunteers have now planned to build a long-term strategy for rehabilitation, as the immediate relief has been provided.
Published: 25-05-2015 07:07