Nepal Earthquake 2015: How to help


 A week has passed since the dreadful earthquake in Nepal. I as a responsible citizen of Nepal and a member of social organization want to share my experiences and the ground reality after the Nepal earthquake.

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 was just another normal public holiday in Nepal. The weather was bit cloudy and little cold. I was at the fourth floor of a house in Kathmandu when there was the big earthquake. I felt a very strong tremor. Everything in the room was shaking and falling down that I couldn’t even get out of the room for few seconds. Suddenly I heard people screaming from outside. I looked from the window and saw most of the people from the neighborhood had come out of their houses and were on the street. I had felt earthquakes before but this one was most scary because there were many after shocks occurring every now and then.

I saw women and children crying and people were very scared and looking for safer place. For some time, I stayed among the neighbors in one of the open fields nearby. At the field itself there must be more than five hundred people. I hurried to call my home which is also in Kathmandu. But all the phone connections were out. After trying several times, I gave up calling and decided to go to my home. I walked to the main road and saw huge number of people on the middle of the street. They had used the street as a safe field with no houses or electricity poles nearby. Due to unplanned housing and urbanization, people in Kathmandu have left limited open spaces.

I walked past one of the community hospitals and saw nurses and doctors were treating patients outside on the street. Due to the fear of the quake, every body even the serious patients were out. As I went inside the hospital to see if I can help in anyway, I saw one lady laying on the floor as the paramedics had just announced her dead. A part of the roof of the house had fallen on her. One nurse said that there were no enough stretchers to take that lady outside. After seeing a dead person in front of me, I slowly realized that the earthquake must have caused serious damage in other places. I hurried to walk to my home as the traffic had stopped and people were in panic. I was relieved to see that my family was safe after reaching my home. Then I went on foot to the main places of the city like the Kathmandu durbar square and Sundhara. The scene was shocking as many ancient palaces and temples of Kathmandu which was our pride were destroyed. Kasthamandap – a temple after which Kathmandu was named had fallen down. I saw policemen and volunteers were clearing the debris of the fallen temples looking for trapped people. Also it was even sad to see Dharahara which was a historical  monument in central Kathmandu had completely fallen down.

People were confused and still outside of their houses after dusk as the after shocks were going on. I couldn’t decide what to do as many people were packing their essentials and leaving houses to live at the open fields nearby. There were some volunteers at our organization and all were safe so after serving them food, I went with them to look for open fields. The community grounds, school grounds and other open space nearby was already full of people.  We found one ground and stayed the night there. Some people were living under temporary tents while some were inside their cars as there was occasional rainfalls. We spent few days like that sleeping outside under open sky as the fear continued.

Aftermath of the Nepal Earthquake 2015

The disastrous earthquake of 7.8 richter scale had an epicenter in Barpark village of Gorkha district in Nepal.  The quake was followed by many after shocks which is still going on after a week also. The government of Nepal had declared emergency in the severely affected districts. The quake has caused serious damages in twelve districts of Nepal. According to the official figures as of May 2, 2015, nearly Seven thousand people have lost their lives and nearly Fifteen thousand are injured. About Ten thousand government buildings are damaged because of which the local administration and government schools, hospitals will be unable to provide quick services to the public. More than One hundred thirty thousand local houses are completely destroyed whereas about One hundred thirty four thousand local houses are partially destroyed.

Many tourists mainly trekkers have been reported missing. There was an avalanche in the Everest region after the quake and landslides at the Langtang region which are considered as the world famous trekking trails. There were also reports about losses at the Manaslu trekking region. Detailed official reports about the losses at these region is not out yet because of  bad weather condition so that the rescue helicopters could not reach on time. Moreover the geographical condition of Nepal is so complex that the villages are situated at the hills and mountains. Good roadways and transportation is not available and it can take hours to reach one village from another by walking on foot. Due to the difficult geographical terrain, it is taking time for the deployed teams and aid workers to reach different villages, rescue people and distribute food and relief materials.

The Nepal government has deployed all its resources at the earthquake hit districts. About Sixty thousand Nepal Army and Thirty thousand Nepal Police force have been mobilized. Many individual volunteers and Non-governmental organizations have come forward for the relief works. The search and rescue works are still going on in different places. Many countries have sent rescue teams, paramedics and relief materials to Nepal. Friendly nations and International humanitarian organizations have pledged millions of dollars worth of aid to Nepal.

Nepal was not ready for the disaster of this scale. The people of Nepal who are illiterate or even educated ones did not have enough knowledge  about the safety after earthquake. Many people were injured due to running after panic. Being a poor country, Nepal do not have modern equipments and enough tools required for the rescue after natural disaster. The main thing which has  hindered the rescue operations is lack of helicopters and resources. Rescue teams from different countries are working together with Nepali forces all round the clock but there has been reports from the badly hit places that rescue efforts are taking longer. There has been miraculous rescue stories where a fifteen year old boy was rescued alive after 120 hours who was trapped under the rubble.

Similarly the relief works are not going smoothly. This is because the government does not have enough relief materials. The most important relief material required right now is tents as people have become homeless. For example, one thousand tents are required in one affected village where 90% of the houses have fallen down but the government can only provide one hundred. So due to lack of tents, the people of the quake hit villages are forced to live under open sky without any shelter coping with the harsh sun, rain and windy conditions. Tents are not available in large quantities in Nepal so some one has to buy it from other countries or get as a donation. The government has announced that for the import of tents or while getting it as a donation from other countries, there will be no tax on it. This goes same for food, medicines and relief materials for the earthquake victims.

Most people in Kathmandu have returned to their houses whose houses were not damaged but many locals who have lost their houses are living in camps. The condition in the villages is miserable as many people are deprived of the basic essentials i.e. food, shelter and drinking water. Providing tents, food and drinking water has been the biggest challenge for the government and the social organizations working on field right now. Actually the government and NGO’s have been able to distribute only dry foods like beaten rice, packet noodles and biscuits right now. In fact people at the remote villages have not even received essential medicines. The injured from the far villages has to be airlifted by a helicopter to district center or to Kathmandu for medical treatment.

The picture of the city is different than that of remote villages. The condition of the main city like Kathmandu and district centers is good in terms of availability of materials and hospitals but the distant villages are suffering more where people have lost their houses, family members and livestock. In addition to this not getting the relief materials when needed has brought frustration among the people.

Many people are out of contact right now as the communications and electricity is down in some villages. As a result of the earthquake, schools are closed and exams are postponed. Thousands of people are displaced and many businesses and shops are closed. Some media have spread false news and shown graphic images which are disturbing. The many aftershocks have caused secondary effects like Landslides which is another natural calamity that hits Nepal every year.

In some camps in Kathmandu valley, about fifteen hundred people are living in one camp. Authorities are also worried about the spread of airborne diseases and other infectious diseases transmitted due to water and hygiene. Some hospitals are still full of patients admitted after the quake. United nations agency has said that pregnant women, girls and women of reproductive age are vulnerable at this time. UNICEF has asked the parents to keep their children with them and keep an eye on them. Some people with evil intentions can harm the children. There can be danger of sexual violence or Human Trafficking. Some children may also suffer psychologically due to the events after the earthquake. This catastrophe has affected the Nepalese society in many levels. In order to deal with unforeseen problems, people must stay positive and unite at this time of national tragedy.

How to help for the Nepal earthquake relief

Nepal government has announced relief package for the earthquake victims but it is not sufficient. Only government efforts is not enough for the relief and rehabilitation of the quake victims. Billions of dollars would be required for the reconstruction and rehabilitation. Individual volunteers, social organizations, NGO’s, INGO’s, Private sectors must work together with the government in order to provide essential and effective relief to the needy. The UNESCO world heritage sites like Kathmandu durbar square, Patan durbar square, Bhaktapur durbar square, Bouddhanath, Swayambhunath and Changunarayan temples were worst hit by the earthquake. These sites needs to be reconstructed. Many cracked houses are still unsuitable for living. There may be risk in living in those structures. Thousands of people have lost their homes which must be rebuilt.

Social organizations and volunteers have to work towards spreading social awareness among the people. Volunteers have to reach each and every village and spread message about diseases, hygiene, rehabilitation and disaster preparedness. There should be special attention for the welfare of the underprivileged communities. International volunteering can help Nepal in many ways. There are many schools which are completely or partially destroyed by the quake. It needs to be rebuilt. There is short supply of essential items such as food, tarpaulin, medicines etc. Interested individuals or organizations can fundraise.

Furthermore speaking about fundraising, I have seen many individuals and organizations creating donations page and asking for money. I would ask people not to rush to donate money to Nepal. The relief and rehabilitation phase will take months. So I would request people abroad to collect the funds and donate according to the requirement of the cause. In this regard there should be transparency so only give donations to trusted individual or organizations. The Nepal police has reported some fake websites asking for donations as there are some bad people who try to use this opportunity to mislead others.

If you want to send materials then only send useful materials. The government has asked Non-profit organizations to co-ordinate first with the local authorities before distributing relief materials at any place thus to avoid duplication. If any International volunteer want to help Nepal for the disaster relief then I would ask only skilled volunteers to step forward. For instance, some one who can build shelter or construct something  and medical professionals who can set up a camp and treat patients. It would be a great cause to volunteer in Nepal at the time when help is most needed for the Nepali people.

Being a Non-profit organization in Nepal, Nepali host family would like to fundraise for buying tents, blankets, medicines, water purifying tablets, sanitary pads, mosquito nets and phenol to be distributed at the earthquake hit districts in Nepal. Also we would like to request medical institutions or medical volunteers to join hands with us. We will provide full support.

At last despite of many limitations, the Nepali rescue teams and foreign rescue teams have done outstanding work and deserve acclamation. Also Thank you to the aid agencies and individuals for your great humanitarian efforts!

Samridha Pandey
Nepali host family
Kathmandu, Nepal

Below is website and email address of our NGO. Please visit our face book page for the latest updates.

Face book page

landslides in the trekking region after the earthquake in Nepal
people in Kathmandu built temporary tents by using pieces of plastic
people living in open fields to have shelter from rain
people living in mass may risk in transmission of diseases after the quake
first day after the quake, police rescuing the people trapped in debris at Kathmandu durbar square
one of the historical palaces at Kathmandu durbar square after the quake
houses have collapsed in Kathmandu after the quake
nurses treating patients outside on street after the big earthquake in Kathmandu
traffic was halted and people panicked after the Nepal quake
local people gathered in safe places after the quake in Nepal
mainly old houses have fallen down in Kathmandu after the quake

Building a shower room in a Disabled Home

Since the beginning of October I have been here in Nepal. Nepal turned out to be one of the most impressive and diverse countries I have visited. Hospitality got a new definition here for me, kindness and patience are framing the everyday life – I would say a journey to Nepal is a journey to the people. But this is not the only aspect of the country. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world where more than 25% of the population is living below the poverty line. Being here for just a month, I have experienced these contrasts every day.

One of the examples is the disabled home in Kathmandu where I am volunteering since few weeks. There are around 21 mentally disabled students. As a volunteer, I’ve been helping the center by painting the walls, coloring the swing and the benches. I also worked at the sewing class and taught them to make bracelets. I like sharing my knowledge and don’t mind helping the teachers and staff with the everyday work at the center.

Five out of the 21 students who stay at the disabled center are orphans. Few students living there are abandoned by their parents because they don’t know how to handle them. There are two women staffs that live with the disabled children but they don’t have any medical knowledge. Medicine as well is very scarce and not provided to every child. Some windows of the sleeping rooms are broken, food is served every day though but it is very basic. Diapers for children and the totally disabled are expensive and not affordable. Also clean clothes for everybody, towels and toothbrushes are not available.

One of the main problems is that there is no shower installed at the disabled home so the children wash themselves by bucket shower outside at the ground. Because of this some children remain not properly cleaned and there is a lack of hygiene. I saw it is too hard for the women staffs to wash all the 21 students using the bucket shower so a proper shower is necessary for this disabled center. My thought is that if there is a shower, it will be easier for the staff to wash them. Constructing a proper shower room would be a big help for this disabled center.

My aim is to build a shower room so that a general need of every child could be fulfilled – They could stay clean and the hygiene can be maintained. To construct a shower room, we need 500 bricks, 4 bags of cement, a tractor of sand, a steel roof, a door, a water tank and some pipes. Three workers including a plumber would be required for the construction.

But for this I need your help so I am fundraising. If you are interested in supporting my project, then please donate whatever you can on the following bank account:

You can be sure, that the money will be directly invested for the shower construction project. As soon as we are able to fundraise enough money, the construction of the shower room can start. Please see some photos of the Disabled center below.

We are very thankful for every donation.

Best and warms regards from Nepal,

 Elisabeth Gruber

(Elisabeth is from Austria who is volunteering in Nepal with Nepali Host Family at the Disabled home in Kathmandu and she is fundraising for the shower room construction project)

Note: This project was completed on December 15th 2014. Friends and family of Elisabeth donated generously and we were able to fund raise enough money for this project. Thank you to all the great people from Austria and Germany who donated.

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A photography volunteer’s trip to Namo Buddha

I spent a month working as Photography volunteer in Nepal. After the first two weeks doing photography in Kathmandu, I wanted to go somewhere outside, far from the pollution and crowd. Namo Buddha should be one of the places to visit in Nepal for travelers. It is said to be one of the holiest Tibetan Buddhist places in South-East-Asia.

The trip from Kathmandu is available by Taxi or bus. The bus costs around 150 Rupees. You will travel through the Araniko Highway and pass Banepa and Dhulikhel, two important towns of the Kavre district. You can take public bus from the Old Bus Park in Kathmandu and reach Banepa. The bus for Namo Buddha leaves from Banepa Bus Park. You have to change the bus at Banepa Bus Park to go to Namo Buddha but unfortunately there are just a few buses. The waiting period can be long and buses are always crowded. If it is impossible to catch a seat or place inside the bus, people also sit on the roof. The way leads from paved roads to unsecured dirt roads. While traveling on these dirt roads the buses will reach a maximum speed of 20 km/h.

I had to wait about one and half hours at Banepa for the bus. But the trip is definitely worth the wait. Approaching near to the destination, you are able to view monastery with golden roof between trees and beautiful landscape. After the long trip you may feel tired but remember you are entering a very peaceful place with lots of energy and power. You are able to take a deep breath without the usual face mask and just relax. Beautiful architecture, wonderful wall paintings, impressive statues and thousands of prayer flags cover this place within a beautiful landscape full of trees and mountains.

According to Buddhist religion, this place has a six thousand years old history. Following the legend, a young prince faced a hungry mother tiger with her five cubs. The tiger and her cubs were about to die so the prince donated his whole body to the hungry tigers. After donation the prince was re-born in Lumbini, Nepal as Gautam Buddha. Even some people believe Gautam Buddha returned back to this place again and named this place Sangke daFyafulsa. Later the place was called Namo Buddha (salvation to Buddha) for all people.

I stayed one night at the guest house of the monastery. Even the small guest house offering a nice room for one night including evening meal and breakfast was lovely. The guests also eat together with the monks and it was a different feeling. In the centre of Namo Buddha there is a huge monastery. The red bricked building with beautiful wall paintings and a golden roof is the main eye-catcher. It is surrounded with lots of prayer wheels, and monks are seen everywhere praying or studying. It was a different atmosphere to hear the Tibetan chants. At 6 a.m. the Morning Prayer takes place. The monks sit cross-legged on small wooden benches reading from their prayer books. The main hall is very luxurious with carpets, gigantic chandeliers and huge Buddha statues. Even the inner walls have very precise and beautiful paintings. It must have taken a very long time to finish all those paintings in the main monastery.

If the weather is not cloudy then you could even see the Himalayas. The whole place is very lovely, divine, peaceful and special. You can also do this as a Hiking trip to Namo Buddha. While returning back to Kathmandu, I couldn’t find place inside the bus, so I decided to travel back sitting on the roof of the bus. It may sound dangerous, yes it can be but the experience was amazing. This was the most interesting place I have found during my Photography volunteer work in Nepal.


(Christian from Germany did photography volunteering in Nepal with Nepali Host Family)

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Supporting a Community school in Nepal

There are hundreds of community schools in Nepal. Many of them are run by the local community and the government of Nepal provides most of the funds to run the school. Many community schools in Nepal are also supported by some national and International Non-governmental organizations. Shree Mahankal Secondary School is a local government school located at Kavre district, Nepal. The school is situated at Dev Bhumi village development committee at Bela, Kavre, Nepal. Nepali Host Family and Hamromaya Nepal first ran project at the school to help the local children. In September 2013, we organized a Medical outreach at Shree Mahankal Secondary School with the technical support of Kathmandu university Dhulikhel hospital. Now coming in 2014, we have supported this school again and this time to transform its classrooms. This school was established in 1990. It has about 350 students and twelve classrooms.

Our project to support the community school

The classroom walls looked dirty when we first visited the school in 2013. The colors had faded and it looked like the classrooms needed immediate improvement. The Principal of the school told us that it had been more than ten years that the classrooms haven’t been painted. Our organization, Nepali host family and Hamromaya Nepal decided to change the classrooms of the school by giving it a new paint. We provided funds to the school for painting of all twelve classrooms. Hamromaya Nepal wanted to provide the school new study materials as well. So study material of different subjects like English, Science, Math, Geography and other were handed over to the school Principal. Different maps of the world, maps of Nepal and educational materials were provided to the school.

After the paint, In order to improve the classrooms more, we supported the school by providing new classroom management furniture’s. The classroom management furniture includes a table, a chair and a cupboard for every classroom. As every classroom will have a cupboard so it will be useful for the teachers to store student files and reports safely in the class. As classroom management can be very costly so many community schools in Nepal do not have it. Our organization will continue the projects to support the community school in Nepal.

Government school in Nepal

The condition of government school in Nepal is not good compared to the private schools. The budget given by the government of Nepal for the local community schools is inadequate. Many government schools in Nepal suffer from many problems. The two major problems of the government schools in Nepal is lack of resources and management. The Painting of the classrooms and the donation of the classroom management materials and the educational materials to Shree Mahankal Secondary school at Kavre has helped the school in many ways. Our support has enabled this community school to uplift its physical infrastructure.

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Medical Camp for Children in Nepal

I was up by 5:30 on September 27, getting ready for our early morning start to the medical camp for children in Kavre district, Nepal. Bleary eyed, I grabbed the bags of gear and miscellaneous food items and headed down to the van we rented for the day.

Our first stop was to the house of Nepali Host Family board member. We unloaded the food items and bring everything into the kitchen. We worked as a mini assembly line, preparing sandwiches to serve as breakfast for the medical camp volunteers. We drank Nepali tea and tried not to get crumbs everywhere as we excitedly talked about our expectations for the medical camp at the village.

After packing the breakfast, we stopped by the pharmacy to pick up the medications for the health camp. We carried box after box of medicines from the pharmacy and down to our van where the driver, standing on top of the van, strapped the boxes to the roof. You could hear while you were carrying them, the faint sounds of glass knocking together. There were syrups, pills and other bottles of medicines in the boxes.

We headed out of Kathmandu and an hour later we were at the gates of Dhulikhel Hospital in the Kavre district. The community hospital is well known in the area and is a part of the Kathmandu University. The hospital had provided two Nepali doctors and a community programs staff member to assist us with the medical outreach. So after picking up the doctors then with a van full of volunteers and doctors, we journeyed the last 15 km to the site of the medical camp. We were setting up the health camp at a local school in the village.

I was forewarned that the last leg of the drive would be a dirt road with little upkeep. I was prepared for a bumpy ride. I was, however, not so prepared for the road being cliff side. As we bumped along I could see the road drop down on the side, a deep descent into the rice fields below. Being that I’m from one of the flattest states in America I had to close my eyes as we rocked back and forth on the edge of what I was sure would be our death. It is hard to imagine the children of the school walk through that road every day.

We did arrive safely to the gates of the school. The uniformed children greeted us and helped us to unload all of our boxes. The first step was to set up a makeshift pharmacy. The other Nepali Host Family volunteers and I opened box after box of medications and tried to keep them as orderly as possible on the low school tables we were provided. After all the equipment was unpacked, we sat down to breakfast, picnic style. That was our opportunity to talk to the board members of Nepali Host Family and the doctors and really get a feel for what was going to be happening there that day.

Before the camp officially started we were all gathered in the grassy field of the school. They held a mini ceremony to honor the doctors and volunteers, especially Mr. Khai-Thai Duong, whose charitable organization Hamromaya Nepal, helped to sponsor the event. I wasn’t expecting anything for myself, but they placed a flower garland around my neck and tika on my forehead. I was so touched. Here I was, just honored that I got to be a part of a good cause like this.

Medical outreach in Nepal

Different organizations organize medical outreach in Nepal every year. This medical outreach was especially for the poor children. The whole camp itself flew by. For the beginning stages I was in the registration room. When the children started arriving they lined up outside the door and were called in one by one. A form was filled out with their name and age, while other volunteers and I measured their height and weight. It was amazing to me that many children didn’t know their age or when they were born. Many children just guessed. A lot of them were really small for their age. You could see the children come in, some dirty, many with no socks and only rubber sandals to make the steep walk to school.

I got to observe the doctors as well. They worked tirelessly as the never-ending line of students sat around the makeshift clinic room. With patience, they examined each student. While there was no privacy, something westerners are accustomed to, each student was given undivided attention. They were given a basic look over, eyes, ears, throat and were asked about any health problems. The most common ailment, it seemed, was worms. The doctors had to diagnose based on symptoms because there was no lab there.

However, sadly, there were some more serious ailments. One girl in particular, just clearly needed medical attention. She had trouble with her eyelids; the muscles weren’t strong enough to keep her eyes open so she had constant obscured vision. She also had chronic severe ear infections that were spreading into her brain. It was apparent that she had some form of mental handicap and the doctors told me she had previously had Tuberculosis. It was heartbreaking. The doctors did what they could for her, but she would have to travel the 15 km to the hospital to be helped fully. I wondered what would happen if there was no medical camp for children. Would this girl just continue to come to school every day ailing? Her parents who I came to know are very poor weren’t there, but I pray that they take her to the hospital.

It was disturbing to think that some of these children had never gotten medical attention before. By the end of the day over 155 children were seen by the doctors and were provided with free medicines. By 4:30 we were once more packing up the van.

I was so grateful to have been able to be a part of that day. It was a lesson to me about what the drive of a few passionate people can accomplish. Nepali Host Family and Hamromaya Nepal, really made a difference in the lives of those children not in a superficial way, but in a serious and lasting way and that is truly awesome.

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