A village in the mountains
On Friday 1st May, after walking for two and a half hours from the nearest road, Thirtha Thapa and his team from All We Can’s partner organisation Kopila reached the small mountain village of Pokhari. Villagers were keen to greet them as they were the first team to bring supplies nearly a week after the earthquake had devastated their community. Every house in Pokhari had been completely destroyed, leaving villagers to group together in the one building left standing, the local school. Out of 128 households, six people died and 11 were injured. People lost most of their possessions and food which was buried below the rubble. The rain that followed the earthquake made it impossible to retrieve many things. Kopila were able to leave vital supplies of food and tarpaulins enabling people to begin to set up temporary shelters.
Image: All We Can/Kopila
Destruction in the village of Pokhari
Our trusted local partners Kopila and ERDCN are working in some of the areas of Nepal worst affected by the 25 April earthquake: the mountainous and remote rural Gorkha, Lamjung and Syangja Districts. The earthquake’s epicentre was in Gorkha, and only now is the true scale of the impact on this region being fully revealed. Traditionally constructed houses made of brick and mud were severely affected by the quake, and it is estimated that around 80% of houses in Gorkha District have either been destroyed or damaged. Reaching some of the most remote regions with life-saving supplies has been a real challenge, with many villages only accessible by air or on foot.
Image: All We Can/Kopila
Kopila Programme Manager Thirtha Thapa walked for over two hours to reach the village of Pokhari with vital supplies of shelter and food.
The most immediate needs in the villages have been tarpaulins, floor mattresses and mosquito nets. Our partners have also been supplying food. While the damage to houses is assessed and rebuilding starts to get underway, most people are sleeping outside at night. Kopila’s Director, Bina Silwal, described the situation:
“Many are still scared to sleep inside their houses until they are properly rebuilt, and prefer instead to stay outside and sleep under tarpaulins.”
Kopila and ERDCN are focusing on reaching the most vulnerable communities and making sure that marginalised groups are not excluded from receiving support. Both of our partners were already working in these areas, are well trusted locally, and have long-established relationships with local authorities and other community leaders. This means they have been able to respond quickly and effectively to the crisis. Both partners have been focused in the short-term on meeting immediate needs such as shelter and food. In addition, Kopila is using its professional expertise in mental health and trauma management to support people affected by the earthquake.
A safe space
In the midst of such a huge disaster – where so many have lost family members, friends, homes, livelihoods and treasured possessions – there is an enormous need for people to be able to find space to talk, and be listened to, and come to terms with their situation. At the Pokhara Teaching hospital, Kopila has a team of six counsellors and two psychologists working to support traumatised patients and their carers. They sit alongside them encouraging them to share their stories, evaluating their needs and then referring them if they need further assistance. Many of these patients have been airlifted to Pokhara and arrived at the hospital without money or food. Some of them do not speak Nepali, and so even the rescue itself might have been a very traumatic experience for them.
Image: All We Can/Kopila
Ram Bahadur BK (third from left) was visiting his daughter in Barpak village in Gorkha District and was relaxing in his house when the earthquake struck. When he looked out of the house he said he could see the telephone tower jumping up and down and that the people walking on the flagstone were being lifted into the air. He managed to grab his son and get out of the house. He told Kopila counsellors Sabita Sakota and Soimaya Ranabat that, “most of the houses in the village were destroyed”.
Road to recovery
As aid agencies warn of the risk of disease because of the initial lack of shelter, contaminated water and poor sanitation, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the road to recovery is going to be a long one for the country of Nepal. In villages like Pokhari that road is covered in obstacles as people struggle with the loss of life, injuries and the destruction of homes and livelihoods. All We Can has been working with partners in this region for many years and will continue to walk alongside them as they support those most in need in what were already some of the poorest communities in Nepal.
Maurice Adams, Chief Executive of All We Can, said: “We want to thank everyone who has supported All We Can’s emergency appeal for Nepal so far. As well as providing relief to help people through the immediate crisis, we will be supporting the longer-term rebuilding and recovery work that will be necessary in the months and years ahead. We have been working with partners in Nepal for many years, and will continue to do so, including helping communities to be better prepared for future disasters.”