On 25 April 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central Nepal, killing over 8,800 people, and injuring thousands more. A second devastating earthquake hit the country on 12 May.
Nepal suffers many disasters and emergencies every year, particularly during the monsoon season which occurs between June and August. I arrived in Nepal for the first time in August 2002, bang in the middle of the monsoon. I remember picking up a copy of The Himalayan Times and reading the three news articles on the front page. A plane had crashed killing all 18 passengers on board, a village had been washed away by a landslide taking 70 lives and a bus had plunged 60 meters into a swollen river killing 45 people.
This is a stark reminder of the difficulties the people of Nepal have to cope with all the time, but nothing prepared them for the events of 25 April and 12 May 2015.
As I have noted before, Jack and I missed the earthquake by 1 week, but many others were not so fortunate. My good friend Asim, his wife Namrata and their sons Jack and Tim were caught up in the earthquake as they live in Kathmandu. When I visited them in March 2016 it was very clear that the earthquake was still very much on their minds. They related their personal experience of what happened, how their home shook, how scared they were. How they were unable to contact their eldest son Jack who was at school. They had also lost friends and neighbours in the disaster.
It’s difficult to relate to the difficulties the people of Nepal endured in the aftermath of the earthquake. But it traditional Nepali style, everyone worked together for the greater good, friends and neighbours supporting each other through tough times.
In Asim’s neighbourhood in Kathmandu everyone was afraid to go back into their homes directly after the earthquake, in fear of further aftershocks. Temporary shelter and sanitation facilities had to be quickly established and families, including many children needed to be fed. They found a way and survived the hardship.
What surprised me in March however, was how much debris and rubble there was still lying around in many parts of Kathmandu. It was also extremely sad to see how many of the historic temples in Durbar Square had been damaged or destroyed. This led me to question what had happened to the foreign aid that was promised and all the money that was raised throughout the world, to help rebuild communities and homes and get the country back to some degree of normality.
This is the main reason for establishing Raise Funds for Nepal in the first place. I want to be able to see exactly where the money we raise is going and help us achieve our mission to fund and maintain orphanages in various locations in Nepal and provide a stable base for orphaned children to better access education and have a safe environment to live.