Thank you for each and every donation you have made. The donations raised so far have gone directly to support the emergency relief work that Michael Bøcker-Larsen and Miranda Morton Yap and their team have delivered. Here's the full update posted by Michael Bøcker-Larsen on 5 May 2015 detailing progress so far.
A lengthy account of the last week:
About a week ago after the earthquake hit, and people started getting organized, we too started thinking of how and where to help. There was so much devastation everywhere, but there was a place that made more sense to me personally. Gorkha, the home of the famed Ghurkas, and lots of my friends. Another area that was in need of help was Kunchowk, in Sindhupalchowk, where some of my Nepali family originate from and still have lots of relatives.
We started planing a trip to Gorkha, with aid: food, shelter, medicine. In the meantime, Miranda was raising money trying to setup a rescue mission to get our friend निशा and the other 150 stranded out of the completely annihilated Langtang. A rescue to Langtang could only realistically happen by helicopter, but all the helicopters were going to Gorkha. Faye, a Canadian girl that was rescued from Langtang wrote an appeal to get choppers to go there, that got shared more than 5000 times on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152744974171680
Anyway seeing that a lot of help was going to Gorkha, plus after receiving a request from Janis Binnie to help out her people in Sipaghat, also in Sindhupalchowk district, our effort turned towards that region. We continue supporting missions in Gorkha with Urmila and Suxan visiting smaller villages and overseing groups of people (lower caste people are often overlooked, even in these emergency situations). They've visited and/or sending relief to Nareswor and below, Ghyampesal, and they are planning to reach further out to Naya sagu, Deureli, Chisopani, Ghaipur, etc. Basically they've their own operations going on there. (We've sent 50 big tarps, medicine provided by Nurse Teach Reach, food and cooking utensils).
With a focus on Sindhupalchowk a plan started to take shape. A lot of intel was pouring in from various sources: phone calls from the area, relatives that had been in contact with people living there, and reports on http://kathmandulivinglabs.com/earthquake. It has been, and it still is, frustrating to work in this environment of incomplete information. We are receiving thousands of dollars and the responsibility to these donors is real. A wrong choice of action would lead to perfect redundancy. Fortunately that did not happen.
With two destinations fixed, the preparations to leave took place. It seemed to take forever, because we really wanted to go. Bichari Thapa, one of the villagers had come to Kathmandu to meet with us, and he kept repeating their needs and their dire situation, that too kind of intensified the situation.
In the preparation phase we were joined by Richard, who worked with us on the budget, and aid estimates. Later on, very last moment we were joined by Ake Lindstrom, who ended up leading the trip. The team members going were: Peter Francon, David de Vries, Johann Ingemar, Suzanne Boyd (Respiratory medic), Carole (nurse), Ram (driver), Kirti Prasad Rijal, Amrita Gurung, Austosh. Shishir Sharma, Miranda and I stayed home working on Helter Shelter and developing To Da Loo with Kishor Lohani.
The plan of how to reach Sipaghat and Kunchowk changed several times before leaving even, since the roads were either temporarily blocked by debris, by desperate villagers, that would loot the aid for themselves, or by police/army that would refuse us access for the same reasons. The road taken ended up being the first route we planned. First Sipaghat along the Melamchi valley, then up to Melamchi and east towards Kunchowk. The other road considered was the longer, but better road from Zero Kilo to Chautara. In the end it was deemed unsafe.
The team headed out for Sipaghat in the afternoon after much delay. On the road to Sipaghat the team was passing by a convoy of trucks from Sikkim coming from Sipaghat, so aid had likely already reached there. They arrived by dusk in Sipaghat but was unable to contact any of our contacts there. Knowing that the village had already some food and aid, they continued up towards Melamchi to rest for the night before heading out to Kunchowk in the morning.
Peter writes (from https://www.facebook.com/PeterFrancon/posts/10202696151883431):
We carried 3.3 tons of rice, 250 tents, water buckets, and medication. Arriving in Melamchi we saw 6+ trucks from Sikkim (NE India) returning, their supplies delivered. They had taken relief to villages north of Melamchi to Helambu way to the north of Melamchi. The same convoy we'd heard of being delayed at customs on the eastern border with India, days earlier.
Our target destination was Kunchok, 2 or 3 hours to the east. But it was dark and we chose not to risk the road at night. We slept inside the bus and on its roof. After early morning tea we set off. The devastation was similar to that which we seen on the Tipni road 3 days earlier. Virtually every house was a pile of stones or dangerously uninhabitable. And then a road block, trees laid across the road blocked our passage.
Villagers were hungry, frightened. They weren't inclined to sit and watch two trucks laden with rice, pass them by. Local boys suggested "Let's take the rice!" Hands slipping under the truck tarpaulins. But there was no violence, no stealing and we were able to proceed.
We had no idea how many people ahead had not yet received aid. We wanted to reach Kunchok and evaluate the situation from there, to try and ensure fair distribution of rice, chiura (beaten rice), dal, simple tents we'd had manufactured, rope, buckets, and medical aid. Kunchok is based around a large open space on a ridge, it had no water supply.
Ake our team leader with the help of our Nepali guides and the local police in-charge MB Thapa, 2 Stars, had the village committee representatives gather number of houses and family numbers in each village. The sums were done and rice bags shared accordingly.
Suzanne, Carole and Amrita set up their medical centre in the cracked but serviceable health post building. Injuries ranged from badly sprained ankles, dislocated shoulders, back injuries and deep head wounds on several children, muscular sprains, to chicken pox in a 16 year old girl.
Our plan was based on delivering rations for 3 days for each person, enough to suffice until further relief arrived. Orca estimated we'd delivered approximately 12,000 meals. But apart from rice what villagers need are sturdy tents and tarpaulins. The rainy season is only 4 weeks or so away. And with no building materials coming in reconstruction of habitable homes is a distant prospect. Our work is not finished.
Our work is indeed not finished. First of all, since we was not able to deliver our aid in full to Sipaghat, we are setting out there tomorrow again. They've received some aid from others, and a big part of the local commerce has started up again UN reports. All the way east to Kavre (also in Sindhupalchowk). That means they will be able to buy the basics themselves. We will return Sipaghat with shelter and whatever aid they may be missing and more readily available in Kathmandu.
We might do a few more smaller trips like this, but we've decided to focus more on shelter, sanitation and on long-term aid. This has let to the start of to projects Helter Shelter and To Da Loo. Thanks for all your concern, support and donations and many thanks to the team who selfishly ventured out on this trip!
To Da Loo (https://www.facebook.com/ToDaLooNepal)
Our toilet empire is taking volunteers and going out to locations around the KTM valley where people are displaced, living in shelters and have no access to toilet facilities. we are building pit latrines and we have so far built 43 toilet in 5 communities (Sankhu, Bhaktapur, Godavari, Battedanda and Khokana (Lalitpur). this is going to be an ongoing and expanding venture as we train more people on how to build these simple toilets to help stave off the risk of disease spreading from lack of sanitation. We are now coordinating with the local Red Cross who are putting up shelters for people, so we can build the toilets at the same locations.
Helter Shelter (https://www.facebook.com/HelterShelterNepal)
There is a massive need for tents across the country. we had 350 shelters made to send to Sindhupalchowk and Nuwakot and are now getting constant requests for more tents. Helter Shelter is simply a distribution idea. we are taking orders from people who need tents, regardless of how much money they have, and we are facilitating the manufacturing or shipping of them. we are able to buy a surplus ourselves so we can supply those who need them no matter if they can pay or not. this project is still in its early formation but even though there is now an influx of tents through aid arriving in the country, there is still a huge unmet need. in the scale of big aid organizations, our numbers don't even touch the sides but for the families we are able to provide shelter