Thursday, August 6, 2015


A demolished building among the many that remain standing
in the center of Kathmandu


I have been here for 25 days.  The monsoons are light except on occasional nights when the thunder claps and the skies send down deluges of rain.  The rolling power blackouts are still a reality, but this has been part of the Kathmandu ‘landscape’ for the last eight years that I have been coming to Nepal, nothing new. 
Kathmandu viewed from Monkey Temple hill

But the earthquake has damaged more buildings in Kathmandu than I realized.   In Thamel, the big tourist section of the city, only six or seven buildings have been damaged.  But in other parts of the city many buildings that look perfectly habitable from the street have major cracks inside. There is also damage on the backside of many of these edifices not obvious from the front.  Therefore, more buildings than seem damaged to the passerby must be demolished.  The Hotel Association has been given the task of checking out hotels and guesthouses as to their stability, whereas other private buildings, houses, and commercial buildings are checked either by private or government engineers.  Stable buildings public and private are given a green certificate. Those that need tearing down get a red certificate and are deemed no longer safe for occupancy, i.e. many of the Kathmandu tent communities. 
Newari archetecture with no damage
Note the electrical cords

The modern building callapsed, while the old temple behind remains

Workers standing on the second floorl of a demolished building, yet the doorway
below is still sturdy enough to support them
The first earthquake was 7.8 on the Richter scale was Saturday April 25th at 11:56 AM
(It is believed that it was really an 8.1) and the second was a 7.2 on May 12th. But it lasted a much shorter period of time.  People still remain in tent cities, however at nighttime during the torrential monsoon rainstorms, their living conditions must be impossible.  There are no sanitary facilities: toilets, water, except the rain, of course. Yet each morning the Nepalese are out on the streets doing their jobs and sending their children to school.  Nepali people are the most resilient I have ever meant.
Tents village in a field between shops, Kathmandu

Another section of the same tent village
Many tent villages are found throughout

The earthquake demolished 278,000 houses through out the country, mostly in the countryside. While the initial count of those who lost their lives is eight thousand people, that number is growing. Even with the additional direr conditions caused by the monsoons in Kathmandu Valley, it has rained with a vengeance in the mountains. Daily we read about bridges being washed out, roads blocked by mud or other debris causing villages to be totally cut off from the rest of the area, and landslides in mountain villages ruining more property and killing more people (16 lost their lives the other day and 32 just yesterday). Some villages (see Gallichi, Nepal) have even now not yet been visited by any government or relief organization with 90% of their mud and stone houses demolished, people with back and head injuries from falling rock and debris.    

Although I previously stated the aftershocks were over, I was decidedly wrong.  My friend Ine, has an app on her phone that registers aftershocks of four on the Richter scale or more, and there has been an aftershock everyday in the mountains, and one near Kathmandu, since I arrived in Nepal on July 9th.  These are mini shocks, but still highly disconcerting for the local people.  They all carry on with their lives nervously waiting for what Mother Nature has in store for them next. 

A Monkey Temple building  UNESCO funds
will help in the repair

As the earthquake struck, a small boy stumbled aad fell, then the
bell fell over hiim, protecting his body and savung his life from
 falling rubble.
(also at the Monkey temple)

Next to one of the walkways up to the MonkeyTemple, a wall was damaged. Women fill woven baskets with
the bricks and carry them away, clearing the path.  After, they will search through the rock and decide which
rocks can be reused, discarding the rest. 

There are seventy-five districts in Nepal however with all the devastation, only three districts have been affected. Yet this small poor country, which depends mainly on tourism and international donations, is now desperate for help. 

A sky view through more damage
Much of the money from large donors has been placed in a government account.  They have allotted to those who have lost their homes, two Laks each.  A lak is 100000 Nepali rupees, or equal to 1000 US dollars.  This means each household will receive from the government fund equal to $2000 US dollars.  I have been told that even a basic house costs about $6000 US dollars to replace.  What are the poor to do?  Will they still be living in tents when the winter comes?  Next year?  Most of these loses are up in mountainous areas where living during normal circumstances is marginal at best. 

A small street temple that surrvived

A small street temple they hope to save

There are millions of dollars in this fund, donated to Nepal from concerned countries, the Red Cross, the UN and others.  The local people question, ‘Where is all that money going? A few groups of people have protested to no avail.  Statements have circulated that ‘small personal fortunes have been made from the earthquake.’  I am only reporting what I have heard and read during my visit. That is not to say that some of the government aid is not helping many of the earthquake victims and there is a need for more.

But I also know that The Save the Children fund, Doctor without Borders, do not put money in the government fund but deal directly with the charitable needs of the people. Many small local donors like the Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyanghi Club add a small portion of what they collect to the government fund, and then spend one hundred percent of the balance on repairs and aid to mountain village earthquake relief.   UNECEF, the UN’s children’s fund is giving private aid as well as contributing to the government fund. UNESCO will be helping with the rebuilding of the Durbar Squares monuments and other world Heritage Sites through out the country.
Example of beautiful Nerwari archetecture that should be saved

Earthquake rubble piled in front of an old Narwari building

May I suggest you go to the Facebook page of the Hotel Ganesh Himal and scroll down a bit to see pictures of the devastation and also what some of the local groups are doing to help?  Also check out the Internet for Gallichi village, Nepal.  Frank Dirks’ Globalonly Foundation, although it’s mandate is computer education for poor children globally, it is also doing excellent relief work in Nepal.

another distant view of Kathmandu valley

What ever your choice of donation, if you can help, please do so.
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