Since the earthquake in April, conditions for the people of Nepal show little sign of returning to normal, despite the overwhelmingly kind response of those who have contributed from countries across the world and the best efforts of relief organisations. Shortages of fuel, materials for the repair of damaged homes, medicines and food imports, were already apparent in areas isolated by damage to the road network and are becoming critical as winter approaches due to the political turmoil resulting from the disagreements created by the adoption of the new Nepali constitution. Nepal is a land locked country sandwiched between India and China and relies heavily on imports for all of the above commodities and an unofficial blockade of the Indian border - through which around 90% of its imports flow - has reduced supplies to a trickle, which cannot be alleviated by increasing traffic through the single, logistically tortuous route across the Himalayas from China.
The economic well being of most of the villages in the earthquake affected areas is heavily dependent on the salaries of workers who have migrated to the city of Kathmandhu and its surrounding valley, where the industrial, business and service sectors are concentrated, and who send back money to their families to supplement the meagre incomes derived from subsistence farming. These workers' jobs are now under threat, primarily due to the fuel shortage which has seen public transport reduced to a minimum, electricity for factories and workshops - already limited - cut to the bone, and raw materials running out. The impact on individuals, such as our friends and suppliers like Binaya Shrestha, Jayanti Karki and others has resulted in desperate measures: walking or cycling 15 miles to work and back every day, using nail polish remover for motorcycle fuel, sleeping in their workshops in case power is restored in the middle of the night.
Although we are powerless to intervene in the politics of this sad situation, we understand by our daily contact with them that the best way to assist them is by supporting these small family businesses by continuing to place orders for their beautifully crafted products, keeping them in business and maintaining the jobs of their employees until the political climate improves. Of some things there is no shortage in Nepal: determination, commitment to and pride in the quality of their workmanship, and a willingness and openness to engage with the rest of the world by sharing their cultural heritage through their art and craftsmanship.