Rajeev Goyal is an Indian development expert and colleague of many staff at ITC. He was working in the Kavre district in the Kathmandu valley when the earthquake struck this weekend. Thankfully he is ok but he has witnessed the destruction of his country and the distress and terrible suffering of its people. This morning Rajeev wrote the following letter to his ITC colleagues describing what happened and how people can help to raise funds quickly to provide much needed shelter to people now and in preparation for the monsoon. I am sharing his letter to raise awareness about this fund raising project to get more shelter for this community.
I am writing from Nepal. I am okay, but the country has been devastated, especially farmers who lost everything in the 7.9 magnitude earthquake. We have experienced more than 100 aftershocks since the initial earthquake three days ago. Everyone is still screaming and running away from the house when there is the slightest tremor, so in many ways the earthquake is not yet over. I have been living in Kavre district, where almost every home not made of cement has collapsed. Livestock have been crushed by the collapsed houses, as people try desperately to remove them. Women are crying about the death of livestock. In Kakrabari village, where I visited yesterday 275 homes were destroyed. In Sanga, where I have been living, all 41 homes are gone. In Thulo Chaur village, 25 homes are gone. In a village called Khal Chowk which I visited today, 60 homes are destroyed. Those most intensely impacted are ethnic minorities of poor economic status, who will be unable to rebuild the home without taking severe loans. I have been taking pictures and video of the devastation which I am trying to upload but due to poor internet and electricity have been unable. I am currently documenting what is happening in several villages around me. Today I have come to Kathmandu to share the information we have collected.
Right now the main need is tarps, to protect from rain. I had also been sleeping in one of these tarps, where in some cases 25-30 people are staying under a single 15 by 15 foot tarp. By one estimate the country needs more than 300,000 tarps immediately, if people are to survive the monsoon. Most people’s homes have collapsed, or cannot even enter their cracked home due to fear of it collapsing, so the tarp becomes a way to stay dry and protected. We are distributing several hundred tarps which are expected to arrive from India tomorrow morning on a truck. Volunteers are helping set them up.
However, in a few weeks, the tarps will not be enough, when the monsoon comes in June and people are exposed to rain and wind, so we are trying to create a safer structure out of canvas, which we are sourcing from Thailand. These structures are a lot cooler than the tarps and more comfortable. We are right not trying to raise funds for the canvases to build as many of these structures as we can. We have started an effort to scale construction of these bamboo-based canvass structures with the help of a group called Abari Institute. We think this could be a solution to give people a solid temporary structure to make it through the monsoon with some degree of comfort and safety:
People are most concerned right now to stay dry at night, to get valuable objects out of their collapsed houses, to keep their children from getting injured, and to keep the elderly safe.
Most of the injured are elderly women, who could not get out of the buildings in time. I met one woman today who broke her back trying to get out. Another elderly woman had cut her legs. I have been incredibly moved by the love and tenderness of the people, as they take care of the elderly and the children, as they carry each other through this crisis. People here, especially farmers, are by no means helpless and they are all taking care of one another.
Regarding food, most people’s food sacks are trapped in the house and also their cash. Thus, food is running out and people are less able to purchase food. They are not drinking enough water, and are exhausted from lack of sleep. The risk of disease is extremely high right now. We have been trying to distribute hydrating salts in addition to tarps.
Those most affected are rural farmers who have no way to rebuild their homes, which they cannot salvage. We are most afraid regarding from the trapped animals, which have died but cannot be buried. The spread of pandemics has been increased due to this. People are not drinking enough water, and the village water supply is also not clean due to runoff and debris from landslides. We are contributing hydrating salts along with the tarps.
I’m trying to coordinate the effort for Kavre district where tens of thousands of homes are gone. I have been in touch with as many villagers as I can and each day we are collecting and transporting tarps and tents. Please contact me ASAP if you can help. Here is the fundraiser which I am running on Indie go go for support of Kavre district. We are all volunteers so any contributions will go 100% to the communities:
Thank you for your concern for Nepal. The situation has been catastrophic in rural areas especially for those who were already the most fragile. At the same time, I’ve been moved by the incredible compassion and generosity of people here, sharing amidst scarcity. Many villages have run short of rice and potatoes and they are feeding the elderly and the children first. They have been sleeping in groups to take care of one another in crisis.
Thank you so much to all those who have written me with concern for people here. Please help us get the word out! If there is the possibility of greater UN support for our effort in Kavre, it would help the effort.