As soon as the first earthquake struck, our alumni Prakah Shahi (who studied at IIHD for his MSc in Sexual and Reproductive health in 2013) and his wife Pasang Devi Tamang (also an alumni of QMU) took their own initiative, raising funds immediately from family and friends to support those most affected. Although Prakash now works for the Nepali Technical Assistance Group (NTAG) , he and Pasang by themselves, organised this local effort to support the basic needs of local populations after the 2 earthquakes in Nepal. Here is their first-hand account as we received it:
“We put our life at risk! we wanted to help Thuman village which lies in remote part of Nepal and the way to reach there is either by walk or by helicopter there is no access of transportation! Our plan was to send all our relief supplies via helicopter because it is impossible to supply all the stuff walking (We had 12 tons of stuff)… but our relief stuff were still stuck at Dhunche. We were unable to suppy all the foods that we had but we wanted to supply some foods to village with the help of 10 local people and couple of helicopter flights which carries only 7/8 sacks of rice. When we realized we were not getting a helicopter we asked local leaders for help so that we could reach our target villages with our supplies and we got help from 10 local people who helped us to carry our light stuffs like biscuits, noodles, chocolates, glucose, matches and medicines on our back! We had lots of problem on the way to Thuman, first day we had to lose one friend who came back to Kathmandu due to health problems, now he is fine. We didn’t realise our roads would be so scary and all our road would be blocked by landslides. Yes most of the roads to Thuman were blocked and we had to walk on the big stones and when winds were coming we were thinking of other big land slides because lots of stones were falling down from the hills. After six days we were back here in Kathmandu. we didn’t realize it would take six days. Actually, we had initially planned for four days but when we reached Kalikasthan, Rasuwa and when we knew we were not getting a helicopter, we changed the plan and we all made decision to reach the village by walking because we wanted to reach to people who are in need of help/support and we made it. we had to walk for couple of days to reach there and couple of days to come back to catch a bus. we walked for up to 10 hours per day……Eventually we arrived in Thuman, Rasuwa… we saw that 100 percent of houses are damaged by earthquake. people are living in different tents, mills and schools. up to five household are living in a tent. So, The first need we identified with the discussion with local people is the need for shelter, Tents, all the people are asking for tents because they want to escape from raining and bring their stuff out from damaged house so that they can rebuild or manage their houses. Nepal government has sent 72 tents for 304 household which is not enough, so we need more tents, urgently, we are appealing to all for support.”
On one of the days of their trip (4th May), Prakash and his colleagues also ran a health camp where their clinical team member, Manoj Poudel , conducted basic health check ups for over 123 people. At that point the risk of epidemic seemed low in that particular location.
Prakash and Pasang are back in Kathmandu, safe after the second earthquake which was also extremely scary, and they are continuing their efforts. Now they will be working on a long-term project for the reconstruction of the villages and coordinating with one local organisation called Himalayan health care foundation.
As we post these news, QMU is also holding an Awareness Day for Nepal, to raise vital funds to support people affected by these devastating earthquakes. This event will provide essential funds for students from Nepal, who are currently studying at the University, and students at the University’s partner institution Silver Mountain School of Hotel Management in Kathmandu.
We at IIHD, will keep posting more blogs from our colleagues in Nepal, as they reach us.