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A Nepal Journal by Sarah Snodgrass reporting for JAS Worldwide
On April 25th, a massive 7.9 earthquake ripped through the remote Himalayan country of Nepal followed by another major quake a week later.
For three years, Sarah Snodgrass worked among the people of Nepal, specifically focusing on women and children at risk. JAS Worldwide is supporting her as she focuses on meeting the immediate needs of the Nepalese people. These are her reflections as she currently assists in the efforts in the rural areas outside Kathmandu.
The most recent journal entries are at the bottom of the page.
To The Villages
May 16, 2015
It's strange to be back in a place that is so familiar, but has changed so drastically since I last visited in January. In Kathmandu, the capital city, where building codes were [mostly] followed, the devastation is not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Of course, many buildings have been rendered unlivable because of cracks in the foundation, but as I bicycled around the city yesterday, things have remained relatively intact. People continue to sleep outside, either because their home was destroyed or condemned, or simply out of fear. Tremors are a daily experience, and just yesterday, a 5.7 magnitude quake hit, just thirty or so miles to the east.
As I go into the villages today, I'm expecting to see a much worse picture. The villages are the areas that have been hit the hardest, as their homes are poorly built and they sit on the sides of mountains.
The nation is in mourning and the trauma everyone has gone through is palpable. It's heartbreaking to witness and I feel mostly helpless to do anything.
Thanks to JAS Worldwide and other friends who have stepped up to help me participate in the Nepal relief effort.
Tear Down Before Rebuild
May 18, 2015
Yesterday was my first day in the villages - I wasn't prepared for the wide spread destruction throughout every single home. We spent the day leveling what was left of one family's home so that they could begin to rebuild. We shoveled through piles of rubble, sorting out big rocks and medium sized rocks. We picked ears of corn out from beneath the piles of debris and clay. Valuable seeds and grain were mixed into the dust and needed to be salvaged.
100℉ In the Shade
May 21, 2015
Yesterday was undoubtedly the most physically grueling day so far. We left our camp around 7am, which put us at the house we were demolishing by 7:20. It's already pushing 80 degrees by that time, which makes the work so much more difficult. Our crew has been working on this house (among others) all week, and yesterday, we knocked down the second story.
All of these homes are built with stones and mud, so I spent four hours with a pick axe undoing the walls rock by rock. By 9am, it had passed 100°, my arms and back ached, and I was craving rehydration salts (which are gross, so you can imagine the state of my body).
Since the villagers will rebuild with the same material, we have to sort out the big rocks from the rubble, as well as all of the wood. It's tedious and exceedingly unfun - not glamorous at all. But the team up here is great and no one complains.
Last night was rough, as a huge storm passed through and soaked through our tent. In the middle of the night, ten of us girls had to move all of our bags to the middle and attempt to patch holes with duct tape. A stray dog found his way inside as well, which caused quite a ruckus at 1am. Around 2am, a big aftershock jolted me awake again. Never a dull moment, and 5am came early.
May 26, 2015
Kathmandu had already looked like a war zone prior to the 2015 quakes. I first said that sort of tongue in cheek, but it's true and it's sad.
Between government corruption, poor infrastructure, and an impoverished population, many roads, buildings, and homes were crumbling before the earthquake ever hit. So at first glance, it's hard to tell what damage was caused by the quake and what was that way already.
I've been back in the city from the village for a few days and have had the opportunity to take the bicycle through town, talk with locals, and assess the damage. It's not good. Yesterday, I sat and had tea with my old landlord, and we lamented over the fact that the house he grew up in had been destroyed. I chatted with a taxi driver who I have known for years, and he explained how so many businesses that were already struggling are now in dire straits because of the lack of tourists. Thousands of people continue to sleep in tents in open areas and there are lines for food and water.
Not only has the country taken a hit in terms of physical destruction, but the psychological destruction is massive. People pulled the bodies of friends and neighbors from the rubble. No one feels safe indoors. The quake has set Nepal back in so many ways.
The rebuilding process will take a long time, but good work is being done. Locals and internationals alike have stepped up to the plate and progress is being made. Cynicism has infiltrated some of the media, but I have not lost hope. Nepal will rise again thanks in part to the efforts of humanitarian organizations, individuals from around the globe, companies like JAS Forwarding, and the Napali people themselves.
All photos copyright 2015, Sarah Snodgrass
If you would like to support the relief efforts in this earthquake-torn country, Sarah suggests contacting any of the following reputable organizations.
Medical Teams International
Save the Children
Tiny Hands International
Sarah is writing of her experience and observations in her personal capacity. The views expressed are her own and do not necessarily represent the views of JAS Worldwide, its employees, or subsidiaries.