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

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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