In Humanitarian Response, Nepal, Travel on May 12, 2015 at 2:37 am
5/12/15 3:06pm Kathmandu, Nepal.
Wow, eventful afternoon. There was a 7.4 aftershock, if you can call it that, around 12:30pm. I had just finished lunch. It started slow, then grew until it was just like when I went through the ’89 quake, the ground felt like you’re standing in an unstable boat. We ran outside to the street, where everyone had gathered. This city had just gotten mostly back to normal, now everyone is spooked again and everything will be on hold until people can get their nerves back.
There is a rush of energy right now as everyone is still trying to get home, it’s a sudden unexpected rush-hour.
I was just thinking that I hadn’t blogged much, I Was annoyed with myself for not having that much to say, as I was in a pretty busy work rhythm and my days were moving fast. I was sprinting to the finish, so to speak. Now things feel on hold.
In Humanitarian Response, Nepal on May 4, 2015 at 7:27 pm
5/4/15 Kathmandu, Nepal
I went to a Cultural Orientation session this morning held at the UN compound. It was very enlightening, the facilitator was a British man who’s lived here for 17 years, married to a Nepali. Then my colleague, also married to a Nepali, she walked me around the city center where all the old buildings were – it was breathtaking. Not just the damage, but what is still there! It was just incredible, the shrines, temples, and holy things all around – just too much to process. I took a ton of pictures, I’ll have to see if I can download them off my phone so I can keep taking more.
One thing that’s inspiring is how much they’re cleaning up. They’ve started stacking up the bricks and salvaging what they can. People are sweeping up and getting on with life. There are still a lot of shops closed – many people have left the city to go back to their rural family homes, kind of a reverse migration. It unclear if this is temporary or not. The proprietor of the guesthouse where I’m staying has been selling a lot of bread and pastries, more than usual, because the normal bakers in the neighborhood have left.
It’s been good to see life returning to Kathmandu – people circulating, taking care of business. Restaurants and shops open. Even kids playing. There is still a lot of damage and the effects on this country will last for a generation. But there’s definitely hope here. That’s always inspiring.
In Humanitarian Response, Nepal on May 2, 2015 at 5:48 am
Saturday, 2 May 2015, Kathmandu
Yesterday I got a tiny taste of the field work. We received a shipment of various household goods that had come overland from our India office. Three giant trucks, loaded with sleeping mats, blankets, soap, buckets, tarps, and rope, enough for about 500 families. Our initial goal was to unload the trucks and then put about 300 kits together. I helped unload, we got about 1 1/3 of the way done unloading when it became evident we were way understaffed, so we left the rest for today. They ended up completing that today, and tomorrow there will be an initial distribution to 250 households, or about 1250 people (we average 5 people per household in Nepal.)
Going to where we were unloading the trucks, I got to ride across the city and see a little bit more. The damage from the earthquake varied from untouched to totally destroyed. There were some new construction sites where you could tell they were using reinforced concrete with rebar, those places seemed like they were in good shape. There were a couple of tall apartment/office buildings with big cracks; those probably won’t survive another big shake without being reinforced. There are some really quaint looking parts to this town. I’m bummed I have to come here after so much has been destroyed.
For a country prone to earthquakes I’m surprised with the amount of brick construction they’ve used. The regular, small red bricks. Blocks of buildings are made with bricks – the structures that were not buttressed by neighboring properties mostly fell down; lots of roofs had caved in as well. Many brick walls have fallen – this makes it interesting because it exposes some of the fancier properties that were previously very private.
Change of subject… I’ve got such a cold, it’s annoying. My colleagues here will remember me as the dude with the cough and runny nose. So far the food here has been pretty good. They like spicy food, which is nice. Lots of rice, lentils, and veggies, it’s very simple. My guest house host makes me a nice omelet in the morning.