A generation of Nepalese will live with insecurity and trauma resulting from the April 25th earthquake that devastated Kathmandu and totally wiped out many smaller centres, many of which have remained out of the media’s eye. 9,000 people died in the earthquake, 20,000 were injured and hundreds of thousands of people left homeless.
Partners International has been able to respond rapidly and effectively to the initial humanitarian needs. We have also provided training and support to church leaders so they can effectively carry out trauma counselling and participate effectively in the long-term rebuilding of people’s lives. Once again we have seen that Partners International is able to respond rapidly and relevantly through our global network of local churches and NGO’s. In this case ministry partners in India mobilized to provide logistical support during the period when our Nepal team was in greatest personal need.
We respond through strong local-church networks on the ground in disaster zones. This has historically meant that we get more done by harnessing local initiative. It means we make better decisions because we evaluate local needs through people who understand local issues and can identify genuine needs. Another outcome has been that we are able to serve more remote locations and work in geographical gaps where larger NGO’s are not active because we have connections and grassroots delivery channels. Perhaps most significantly, our development workers themselves are the local people and have a long-term mindset for sustainable development and will work until they see transformation. We see all these factors at work in our Nepal relief
Factors that compound the impact of this particular natural disaster:
- Nepal is the poorest country outside of Africa. People live on a razor-thin margin. They have limited savings, income and assets to deal with unexpected loss and extraordinary expenses such as food hikes, medical expenses loss of housing, and funerals.
- Construction standards are often low or compromised.
- The economy is largely dependent on India and has few resources of its own to respond to needs of its own citizens.
- There was almost no heavy equipment available to dig out survivors.
- There is only one international airport with one runway.
- The mountainous terrain of Nepal made access to smaller centres for disaster relief more difficult. Kathmandu, where relief operations are organized is a bowl surrounded by mountains. Routes out of the valley are congested and treacherous.
- A large portion of the country was affected. Persistent and strong after-earthquakes and shocks have prevented many people from moving back into homes that remained standing.
Initial Response: Day 1 – 30
Staff at Partners International immediately contacted our partner leader in Nepal, Bhim-Lal Tamang. The ministry he leads called Good Friends of Nepal (GFN) operates in 36 districts of Nepal including the the epicentre and hardest hit locations like Nuwakot. Bhim-Lal Tamang, his family and the twenty orphans they keep were unharmed but were forced outside. The multi-story rented facility they live in sustained cracks but was still standing. Bhim-Lal’s first priority was to connect with his team, assess damage and loss of life and respond to the immediate needs of GFN staff and related communities in Kathmandu. PI Canada was able to send $5,000 for this purpose. During this time electricity was intermittent, phones were often down, and banks imposed a limit on the amount that could be withdrawn.
Partners International also contacted its partner ministries in India. Within 48 hours funds had been sent and relief items was organized. The Duars Rural Development Society led by Nicholas Narjinary drove a truckload of food, blankets, tents and a water purifier to Kathmandu. These supplies were distributed to people in need including the children at the GFN orphanage in Kathmandu. At the time the Duars people arrives, the orphanage children were still sleeping outside and Bhim-Lal Tamang had returned from a damage assessment trip to Nuwakot. He was unwell from drinking contaminated water.
Now nearly one month after the initial earthquake, we know that no GFN staff have lost their lives though many lost homes. The children at the Kathmandu orphanage moved back into their home but after a strong earthquake a week ago, they have moved back outside and are sleeping in a tent. Food and other
living supplies are available but at inflated prices. Restrictions on banking have eased. Partners international has provided $29,000 to date to both GFN and the Duars Rural Development Program for relief efforts. Funds have been used to provide families with food, blankets, water, and shelter. Average expense per household on materials is about $50. Relief efforts have expanded from Kathmandu to districts around Kathmandu. Relief materials are available in Kathmandu. There is little need to ship goods in from abroad. In addition, PI USA has provided relief and development experts from partners in India. Our associates are organizing local churches and
Response days 30-90
Now that GFN families have had time to deal with their immediate family needs, the team is actively assessing remote communities. In addition to the GFN team, there are hundreds of workers and volunteers from the GFN churches are able to volunteer help. GFN has the capacity to assist about 400-500 families a week at this time. Assistance is being provided to people regardless of religion. We are praying the love shown by Christians in response to the needs, will draw many to the Saviour.
Several weeks into the process the priorities are:
- Support of Ghorka and Nuwakot districts. Nuwakot has about 200 families that will be helped immediately.
- Food in the remote areas. ( A 30kg bag of rice costing $17.50 which will can feed a family for weeks)
- Tents for temporary shelter from imminent monsoons. (about $50)
- Tin roofing bundles for permanent shelters. ($150/home)
- Fixing up houses of GFN staff (approximately $2000 each to rebuild) available.
- Trauma counselling. (June 1-6 training)
- Collecting reports from GFN field staff and making relief action plans. Identifying at-risk orphans and widows.
Partners International would like to be able to send at least $40,000 for relief and rebuilding of lives during this period to benefit at least 800 households.
Response 90+ days
During this period GFN will move from relief efforts to long term development activities.
- Continued relief with basic items (average $50/household) to vulnerable people including widows, orphans as funds are available
- Livelihood assistance through animal gifting and loans.
- Worker home rebuilding @ $2,000
- Church rebuilding/restoration, (need is 14 x $5,000 = $70,000)
- Trauma Counselling
- Identification and support of orphans
The holistic development training program for women and men run by GFN has placed many development practitioners in the field. These graduates will continue to work and serve in earthquake affected communities. In addition, the training program will begin to intake new leaders emerging from the post- earthquake church, providing a new stream of community leaders that will help the country to rebuild lives
June 2015 Update
As Nepal continues to recover from the earthquakes, Bhim Lal Tamang and Good Friends of Nepal have been consistently sharing updates on the work that GFN is doing. The relief efforts in early June have been focused on reaching rural villages that have been affected by the earthquake. GFN has been focused on assisting in the regions of Makwanpur, Chitwan and Gorkha. Here they have been able to provide food, water and effective shelter. Bhim Lal and his team have been working to provide tin roofs that allow for more permanent shelter as monsoon season approaches. They have also been able to distribute rice and other sources of food to earthquake victims in these regions.
Most recently, GFN has moved to help those affected in the Sindhupalchok District. It has been reported that this district was heavily affected with a large number of deaths following the earthquake. Here, GFN has been able to provide over 460 families with food and shelter. In block number five of the district, government support had not yet been seen and the people were grateful and excited for the work of GFN.
GFN continues to work in these regions as well as Kathmandu, where the children from the orphanage remain and are being taken care of. Soon, GFN will travel to Humla, one of the least reached areas of the country. This trip will be GFN’s first trip there in over three years and they continue to ask for God’s blessings upon them as they share the love of Christ in their communities.
“We praise God for all of our praying friends, ministry partners and all of the sponsors for the help.” Says Bhim Lal Tamang, “May God bless you all.”