Winter approaches in Kathmandu

 

Dear friends, there follows an account written by Mandy Peacock, an occupational therapist and one of our founders who is currently in Nepal, volunteering at a mental health rehabilitation centre in Kathmandu. She and Soma Mahesan, also currently in Nepal, are now planning our next response to the earthquake situation as winter approaches.

Many children in villages face schooling (for the lucky ones) in flimsy, temporary classrooms with dirt floors in icy temperatures. We were also shocked to learn of a community whose village was completely destroyed, who are now camping out in central Kathmandu, and whose situation Mandy describes below.

We will be using some of our reserved funds from earthquake donations to bring immediate relief to this village as soon as we can source the supplies and get them delivered (which is challenging due to the current fuel crisis). We are also planning a Christmas appeal: “Warmth for Winter” based on the idea of a Belgian charity which is supplying a pair of shoes, two pairs of socks and a winter coat to each pupil in a remote village whose school has been destroyed. More information on the way…

For more on the fuel crisis in Nepal, see here.

Mandy’s Day…

I worked in the hospital until 3pm then headed to a tin sheet camp for people whose village in rural Nepal was destroyed in the earthquake so the whole village has been temporarily re-homed to the outskirts of Kathmandu. They desperately want to return to their village but it’s not possible as there is no road to get anywhere near there now plus the ground is so unstable that there is a fear that if they did the next monsoon would wash any rebuilt village away anyway.

They are living in such basic conditions in a noisy, dirty city far away from their rural home and all they are asking from Sansar Nepal is warm coats for the kids so they can remain warm in school, warm shoes for the kids, school stationery items and blankets for the elderly, infirm and breast feeding mothers, during the impending cold winter months.

I asked to see inside the tin shacks they are living in and saw an old chap huddled in a basic but clean and tidy, drafty (as not closed to the elements) tin hut not bigger than a shed. I am surprised they are only asking for blankets for the elderly and infirm, as I understand that they presently have 1 blanket to 3 people.

We heard about the camp through a trusted Nepalese contact who knows the young Tibetan woman called Uten and her sister who have decided to support the camp as much as they can. They have raised money to get the kids into a school nearby and have enough money to feed the 194 people until January 2016. The camp has received no government help.

I went with Nisha, who is a young friend and new board member of Sansar Nepal, and who acted as an interpreter in an intensive care field hospital for 2 weeks immediately after the quakes. She works as a teacher in Kathmandu, and straight after work today traveled 1.5 hours in cramped buses so that I had company in the camp.

After the camp meeting we had some noodles together until it got dark and afterwards she hailed a passing motor bike to hitch a lift as far home as she could, as buses appeared not to be running. She informs me that this is now the norm in Nepal due to the fuel crisis – people just help others who are not so fortunate to have transport…

Having left, Nisha I walked through a religious square near to where I am living, and where the large Buddhist stupa has been damaged by the earthquake. It was dark due to there being no electricity and, as I turned a corner, I was greeted by 100’s of candles. On closer inspection I observed that many Nepalese had gathered to light candles and were standing in quiet reflection with hand-made posters offering their support and affection to Paris, following the terrorist atrocities there.

Nepal this year has suffered devastating earthquakes, and is in the midst of a fuel crisis, with fast depleting fuel, gas and medical supplies such that people are cooking using wood, hospitals can not provide food and people with conditions such a diabetes and heart problems have no medicine. I would expect ordinary people to be drawn to the streets to protest about the conditions they are living in, but instead observe that when they do it is in a quiet, dignified manner to offer solidarity with Paris.

This is why I am always drawn to Nepal.

Mandy

A big thank you to another young fundraiser…

Sansar Nepal is grateful to all our kind donors, but we are always particularly pleased when young people are keen to help people less fortunate than themselves.

Our young friend James recently chose to send a donation to Sansar Nepal, rather than to a school shoebox appeal. His lovely donation has already been put to good use, with additional games such as Ludo and Carrom (a local Nepalese game) being bought for patients at a mental health rehabilitation centre in Kathmandu – see the photo’s below. It is evident that the patients are now enjoying the chance to do some fun things during their time in the centre, and one patient even prepared an individual thank-you drawing to James! Can you spot the likeness?

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Sansar Nepal – Outreach Support

Sansar Nepal recently donated £100 to the Amrita Foundation Nepal (www.amritafoundationnepal.org), a mental health rehabilitation centre in Kathmandu, which Mandy, Michelle and Soma have visited.

Understandably, the earthquake has taken its toll on the physical health, mental health and well-being of many ordinary Nepalese people.

Your kind donations have allowed us to provide numerous resources to the Amrita Foundation, for use by visiting occupational therapists and by existing psychology staff, to improve the well-being of patients by engaging them in therapeutic activities.

Due to the generosity of Sansar contributors, activities such as pampering groups, board games, badminton and arts and craft sessions are now regular features of the patients’ days. Your donations also helped fund the first Amrita Foundation Nepal newsletter which showcased the patients’ talents, and was assembled by them.

If you are interested in making any future donations to this specific project please contact Mandy at mandy@sansarnepal.org.

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UPDATE : Mandy volunteering in Nepal

Apologies for the lack of recent updates on the Sansar Nepal webpage. (Remember, you can always check our Facebook page for updates.) However, now that the monsoon is over, relief work is resuming.

I am presently in Kathmandu spending some time as an Occupational Therapist in a mental health rehabilitation centre.

It was great to meet up with Michelle and Soma to do some research on behalf of Sansar Nepal. We are researching how best to distribute the remaining earthquake monies due to all the wonderful donations from all over the world. We planned to visit a village about a one-hour drive away from Kathmandu and, in spite of being so close to the capital city, it is still struggling to rebuild its community. To date, it has had no external support, Nepalese or otherwise.

It has proved difficult to do anything during monsoon and since, due to a fuel crisis here in Nepal. The monsoon now seems to be over, but our driver queued for 48 hours to get fuel for his vehicle – hence the trip out of Kathmandu on the 4th November 2015. Once we were off the main road between Kathmandu and Pokhara, the local (and very uneven!) track became very difficult, and at times we had to get out of the vehicle to reduce the weight in order for it to negotiate the pot holes.

However, when we arrived we were treated with such kindness and hospitality despite the basic facilities (tents and tin roofs) due to the earthquake. We were offered posies and garlands from marigolds that grow wild there. We were fed and watered with such kindness and generosity. It was lovely, unexpected, humbling and a memorable birthday!

The village is keen to have its school rebuilt, and this was the reason for our visit. We have a number of other places to see, so that we can best determine where and how Sansar’s funds will be spent, and will update you all when we can.

Mandy Peacock

You can see some more photos on our Facebook page…

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Read About Prakash’s Aid Efforts, In His Own Words

1. Experience of Helping The Victims Of Earthquake

It is a great duty to help others in their life who are victims of something. In Nepal there was an earthquake which caused a really big disturbance in the life of the people. Many houses are broken. People have no place to sit even, no food to eat, no place to study.

When I saw this problem it was really bad for me. There was nothing that I can do. I am a student at the moment . So I have to help others in my life who need help. i should not be selfish.

I have been to many places like Fujel, Dhaidung, Tapukot, Karabari etc. Many People have died. The people who are alive are also having really big problems because they have no food to eat, no place to sit and sleep, no place to study.

In the same way, our NGO Sansar Nepal has helped many victims by providing food,mosquito nets, Tripal , we have worked with other organisations like Nepal Bharat, Mati Shang, Pen Network, and many others.

Me myself have been to many places and helped the victims of the earthquake. Many people there where explaining about the hardship of their lives and what to do for the coming generation.

From my view now it is necessary to take part actively in helping the children in providing them with education. Many schools have been broken. So it is our duty to take part in building schools and providing education for the people. Children who are really victims are really worried about the education and they are thinking that education is most important. I also think the same.

Now in the coming days i will also take part actively. I will help the people who need help. I would like to say thank you all the donors who are helping for the earthquake from the bottom of my heart

2. Experience Of Helping The People Of Dhaibung

We heard the news from the Dhaibuing chairman (Biswas Nepali). They all were low cast. Nobody was happy to help these people although the government has provided the food. There is still a cast system in our country in the remote areas. This place called Dhaibung is also in a remote area. We did not have sufficient funds to help all the people of Dhaibung. There were 50 houses in the village. Each house has 4 to 7 members. So we were searching for other organisations or groups to work with. We met Bickey Gurung who is a computer engineer. Bickey Gurung and his office members (Ganesh, Anusha, Santos, Sanjay) had been to Sindhupalchok a few days before.

So it was easy for us to take part and work with them. They were also raising funds from other people. So together, we had enough funds. We had a meeting in our house about things to take. Then we contacted Biwash Nepali. Then they sent us the list of the things they need. Then we got all the things that they need and we packed them.

We packed all the things in such a way that they were easy to us to deliver and helpful to the people of the village. We took clothes to the people. There were many people suffering from malnutrition. They were unhealthy. They had no food to eat and no place to sleep. They could not work properly. Some people had no clothes to wear.

We all saw these problems with our own eyes. The life of the people was difficult and they were really hopeless. They could not do anything.

I had a children’s group who were 12 to 16 years. They were really worried about their family and their study. I asked them their aims. More than 90% of the children want to study and want to become engineers, teachers, social workers etc. Some of the children were crying with me. Some of the children were talking about their lives. They were asking me what to do. They were really happy to see us.

Me and the members of the Pen network went there and distributed the things. The food stuffs we took will be enough for 3 weeks. It was a long journey. It took nearly 11 hours to reach that place. All the group was really tired. We were really hungry too. We drank fresh mountain water. I loved it. Then at 8:30 we reached a small hotel and had dinner. We all are a lot!

Then we had no place to sleep. So we all slept in the truck were we took the things. Our backs were really hurting in the daytime because we had no proper place to sit. Then I said to our group, ‘This life is really hard, isn’t it?’. Then again we went to another village called Peaplgar. The condition was also the same. Then we gave food to 70 houses in this village. Then we came back to Pokhara. We left this place at 9:00 am. We reached Pokhara at 5:30 pm. We all were exhausted. Then it was time to leave my group, so I said goodbye to everyone and came back to our house.

Thank You.

Prakash Gautam

You can see some photos of Prakash’s work on our Facebook page…

Earthquake Appeal : A big thank you to Spar Customers and Staff in Lancashire

We (well, Mandy’s dad) approached Kevin Hunt, Managing Director of Lawrence Hunt & Co Ltd, who operate 29 Spar convenience stores in Lancashire. Kevin kindly agreed to donate some of the funds raised by his customers and staff for the Nepal earthquake, directly to Sansar Nepal, and was delighted with the thank you photo emailed from Pohara (see the the Lawrence Hunt Facebook posting, below).

Thank you for putting your trust in Sansar Nepal, Kevin. The money collected will be put to the best use.

What Has Been Accomplished With Your Donations

Dear friends,

It is now almost 2 months since the first devastating earthquake struck Nepal on 25th April 2015. Since then, members of Sansar Nepal and friends have been working continuously to channel your donations to the most needy victims of the earthquake in various parts of the country. It has not been an easy task, but with your generous donations and the close team work with some exceptional Nepalese friends and organisations, we have been able to send a continuous stream of emergency supplies to villages in desperate need.

We will shortly be posting some compelling reports written by our young volunteers, describing their experiences delivering earthquake relief in the field.

We are extremely grateful for all the donations we have received and are still receiving, whatever the amounts. They have all combined to make these many relief drives possible, and to enable Sansar Nepal to continue to provide aid to those in need in this crucial time period before the monsoon rains make the situation even more dire. The people whom we have helped are truly grateful – for the supplies and also for the fact that they have not been forgotten by the world and that their plight has been recognised. We hope that the photos we have posted capture some of the emotions that have been shared. Our visits brought hope to tired, desperate people and the knowledge that they are not alone. The simple fact that people were willing to make the hazardous journey to their remote villages meant so very much to them.

The relief efforts are ongoing. Currently our team members are up in villages inaccessible by road, delivering supplies on foot and helping to erect rudimentary temporary shelters for children to continue some form of schooling. The children are particularly traumatised by the continuing earthquakes (according to the Nepal Seismological Centre there have been 325 earthquakes and aftershocks of 4.0 magnitude or higher, since the first one struck in Gorkha), and such shelters are a priority to provide a sense of comfort and normality, along with the food supplies, tents, blankets, etc..

We appeal to you to spread the word and to keep the donations coming in. Whatever we receive will make a difference. There are still many remote villages in dire need of aid. Some of these are very hard to reach at the best of times, and, with the onset of the monsoons, will be almost inaccessible. However we will endeavour to bring help to these villages in the difficult months ahead.

For information, below is a summary of the assistance provided in May. As you can see, we were able to assist 26 villages, helping at least 7,000 people. For a small, newly formed NGO, we feel that with your support, we have made an important contribution to earthquake relief in Nepal, and will continue to strive to bring hope and practical assistance wherever possible.

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On behalf of the people of Nepal, we would like to thank all of you who have played a part in this.

Michelle and the Sansar Nepal Team

UPDATE : What’s Been Happening?

Relief Efforts – What’s Been Happening at Sansar Nepal?

Soma Mahesan has just arrived back in Malaysia from Nepal where he has been coordinating the relief work of Sansar Nepal. As soon as he has recovered, we will be posting update and summary of what has been accomplished to aid the earthquake victims during the last month, how your donations have been used and our plans for further action. Please bear with us. The work has been so full-on that there has barely been a chance to take stock. It is on its way. Thank you so much.

In the meantime, here are some recent updates from our Facebook page…

The following video was taking while we were helping victims of the earthquake in Gakhu, in the Gorkha District. Much-needed blankets, food and tarpaulins were provided for 200 houses (approx. 1000 people). Representatives of each household were asked to gather at the school grounds (which were also badly damaged) to receive this assistance. This collaborative aid was provided by The Rotary, Nepal-Bharat (India) Friendship Association, Sansar Nepal, Varden Resort, Zip-Sip Restro, and Nepal Earthquake Relief from Columbia, USA.

OVERVIEW : Sansar Nepal’s Relief Work So Far

Sansar Nepal Update 15th May 2015

Dear friends,

It has now been almost three weeks since the first earthquake hit, and it is time to give some feedback on what has been accomplished with your donations, what is currently happening, what is being planned in the short term, and some longer-term possibilities that we are considering.

The response to our appeal for funds to support our emergency relief work with local initiatives has been overwhelming and truly heart-warming. We sincerely appreciate your generosity and the trust that you have placed in us to make sure that your important donations are used to bring relief to those most in need.

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Immediately after the earthquake struck, numerous local relief drives were launched by small groups of friends, businesses, hotels, churches, local charities etc., both in Pokhara and Kathmandu. We at Sansar Nepal had to decide which of these we could and would support, and, to help this process, we came up with several criteria on which to base these decisions. The people initiating the relief effort should…

  1. be known and trusted by us, have a track record in humanitarian work, or be people known to and recommended by them;
  2. have concrete information about a certain village, or villages, which had either not yet received any help, or had received insufficient help;
  3. know exactly what was needed the most, and by how many households;
  4. know where to procure the supplies, and be able to provide lists and receipts;
  5. have a plan for transporting, delivering and distributing the supplies effectively.

We also wanted to encourage and support the young members of our Garden family and their friends who wished to participate in relief efforts.

What has been accomplished

Based on these criteria, Sansar Nepal has so far supported the following relief efforts:

  1. Delivery of food and tents to the villages of Bharchok and Kharibot in the Kavre district, organised and delivered by our home manager, Roshan (Leela) Gautam, and our Sansar Nepal board member, Aaditya Chand.
  2. Delivery of food and clothing to the village of Panchkhal near Dhulikel, Kathmandu, for 30 families, organised and delivered by our friend Nisha Rai, from Kathmamdu.
  3. Relief drive to the village of Fugei, Gorkha district, organised the Himalayan Evangelical Church, headed by Pastor John, a friend of our family, some of whom attend the church.
  4. Delivery of food to the village of Baguwa, Nuwakot, organised by Govinda Lal Shrestha, friend of Rishi Poudel from the Peace Eye Guest House in Pokhara.
  5. Relief drive to the villages of Takukot and Mikot, organised by Madan Sharma of the Vardan Resort, with the Pokhara Rotary Club and Nepal Bharat (India) Friendship Association, packed and delivered by members of Sansar Nepal. (See a previous update.)
  6. Relief drive to Lamjung organised for 300 families by Bimala and Govinda Gurung and their Helping Hands group from Kathmandu.
  7. Food and tents for 120 people delivered to village of Kalika, one of the villages close to Pokhara affected by the earthquake, organised with Madan Sharma, Rotary Club Pokhara and the Nepal Bharat Friendship Association.

The sponsorship amount we contributed was based on need, the funding that the other organisations had already collected, and how much disposable funding we had to offer at the time. The amounts donated ranged from 25,000 to 80,000 rupees (USD 250 to USD 800).

What is happening currently

  1. Gandakhi Regional District Hospital has received 150 injured earthquake victims from the villages of Barpak and Lapak, and is taking care of them. It costs 20,000 rupees (USD 200) per day to provide two meals for these extra people, and Sansar Nepal has agreed to cover the costs for one day per week for the next few months.
  2. We have agreed to pay the government school fees for a boy who lost his father in the earthquake and is currently living with his mother and relatives in Pokhara.
  3. Tomorrow or the day after supplies will be sent to Thumi, courtesy of the Rotary, Nepal-Bharat (India) Friendship Association and Sansar Nepal. Soma will be going with them. (More here…)
  4. We are planning a relief drive early next week to the village of Dhaibung in the Raswa district, a Dalit (untouchable) village of 724 houses, which is in a very bad condition and up to the 6th May had received no aid whatsoever. 300 people were killed and almost all the houses razed to the ground. (See the report from Saraswati Pratikshya). This drive is being organised by our friend Bicky, with the assistance of another UK NGO, and Sansar Nepal.

 Future aid, educational sponsorship and school reconstruction

  1. Since the second earthquake occurred on 12th May, Nepal has been plunged back into emergency mode. Prior to this, Michelle and Soma met with the heads of Little Step Boarding School, which was attended by one of our sponsored children, to discuss how Sansar Nepal might work with them and the other schools in the Pokhara private sector, including Himanchal School, in the rebuilding process, or in some other way. We were told that the private schools had been approached and each asked to take in 20 children orphaned by the quake as boarders, up to SLC (School Leaver’s Certificate) level at the end of Class 10. Whilst the schools are willing to cover part of the costs, Sansar Nepal could also provide sponsorship for these children.
  1. Little Step School plans to sponsor the rebuilding/repair of one or more village schools after the emergency is passed, and would welcome the support and participation of Sansar Nepal.
  1. Sansar Nepal has offered the provision of temporary accommodation at The Garden for children left homeless by the earthquake. We are waiting to hear if our offer will be taken up.

We extend our most sincere thanks for all the generous donations which have made this work possible, and the funds will be desperately needed in the months ahead when the emergency relief stage has passed. For now, we are still responding to the calls for emergency supplies, and especially for robust tents which are essential for the approaching monsoon months. Already, some of the lightweight tarpaulins have been blown away in pre-monsoon storms or have holes and are no longer watertight.

There is a lot going on – please check back for regular updates.

UPDATE : Planned Relief Mission to Thumi

Planned Relief Mission to Thumi, Gorkha

Tomorrow or the day after supplies will be sent to Thumi, courtesy of the Pokhara Rotary Club, the Nepal-Bharat (India) Friendship Association, and of Sansar Nepal. Soma will be accompanying them.

Thumi is located in Gorkha District which is in the Gandaki Zone of northern-central Nepal. It is comprised of several Wards, most of them inaccessible by road. Supplies to these inaccessible villages must be carried up by hand. The steps leading up to the villages in some of these Wards  are extremely steep, taking several hours to climb. Supplies will be taken there by road to a central point that is normally used by these villages, called Arkhet. The villagers will meet us there and the supplies will be distributed to them. They will have to carry it up by themselves!

No government aid has reached there as yet – only some limited, locally-provided aid, such as ours.

Our relief efforts will be focused on Wards 6, 7, 8 and 9, as follows…

Ward 6: Bhalak and Chapagaun villages. Walking time from Arkhet: 3hrs

Ward 7: Shamrang and Nepot villages. Walking time from Arkhet: 3.5 hrs

Ward 8: Deurali village. Walking time from Arkhet: 8hrs

Ward 9: Dharapani village. Walking time from Arkhet: 6hrs

From what we have been told, there are some 1004 houses in the area of which only four are still standing. The relief effort will be taking supplies (tents, blankets and food) for 200 homes, which equates to approximately 1,000 people (based on a UN-average of 5 persons per dwelling).

Our group has already procured, from India, good-quality tarpaulins (which are more expensive), with the view of servicing the villagers for the next few years, as they will not be able to rebuild any time soon. Good-quality nepalese blankets have also been procured. The total expenditure for this assistance is NPR 800,000 (US$ 7,900). Sansar Nepal has committed NPR 150,000 (US$ 1,500) for the provision of food for 1000 people. In the present circumstances, this doesn’t represent a “major” food supply but it will certainly help.

We have been advised that we only have a window of opportunity of approximately three weeks to help the people in these very remote villages, because the monsoon rains are imminent. Nothing but helicopters will be able to get in after that, subject to the prevailing weather conditions.

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