Much like the aftershocks of the earthquake, articles and impressions, interviews and accusations from and on Nepal, roll out continuously, hot off the presses and on social media feeds, giving us ample material to be worried and angry, to feel righteous and entitled to an opinion, or better yet, generous and giving.
“We are alive, that’s what we are” tells me Lekh Paudel, a friend from Kathmandu, who has travelled for an hour this morning to find an internet connection in order to make our appointment. (Given that before the earthquake, Nepal was a place where wi-fi could be found everywhere from restaurants to rickshaws (it has happened to me to have a free connection even in the jungle) travelling one hour to get any is another sign of how widespread damages are.)
I met Lekh in January, while on a research trip. He was our guide, privileged informant, and general miracle worker, arranging for interviews, negotiating taxis and keeping us abreast with Nepal’s turbulent history and political turmoil. Since last Saturday, his miracle working skills are summoned for after-earthquake recovery efforts.
Half of his family house survived the disaster and, thankfully, there was no loss of life to mourn amongst his close ones. This means that Lekh and his wife, Rachana, fully concentrate on coordinating aid for sending help to the district of Dolakha, where Rachana comes from, which is one of the 9 most affected regions of the country. 95% of the houses were destroyed by the earthquake and people have no shelter and food.
Tents and food are needed and money is needed. So far, Lekh and Rachana have managed to organise together with some of their Indian friends the delivery of tents from the Indian side of the border and they are looking for ways of getting more sent, on Nepal highways network, which has to some extent been spared from destruction. In Kathmandu, political parties and their youth wings are mobilising and coordinating the relief effort for regions outside Kathmandu Valley. Throughout the country, and across borders, old networks of kinship and allegiance are reactivated as each is trying to do their best in this crisis.
While listening to Lekh’s story, my mind wandered to our discussions about Nepal’s 10 year civil war and struggle to achieve justice, which we were having but 4 months ago. In some ways, the efforts at peace they required were very much like those needed today: focus, hope, open minds, tolerance, understanding, and, most of all, resilience.
As of yet, with every passing day Nepalis realise that they can best count on themselves and their resilience to get through yet another cruel twist handed to them by geography and history.
If you wish to help, contributions can be made to:
Lekh Nath Paudel, Seuchatar 5, Kathmandu; Account number: 050200000551 Swift Code: BOKLNPK Bank of Kathmandu
Your contribution will go towards helping people outside Kathmandu valley and will be accounted for.