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Blogging from Nepal: The Road to Chautara

Published 05/14/2015 by Global Communities

Blogging from Nepal: The Road to Chautara
The devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April has devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals. Homes, buildings, and temples were reduced to rubble in the worst disaster to hit Nepal in 81 years. Global Communities is assessing the damage and working to provide shelter and basic supplies to survivors. The following is a blog from Response Manager Jerome Lebleu, who is already helping in some of the hardest hit areas.
Bob [Danzi, Logistics Coordinator] and I hit the road early Tuesday May 12th with a clear mission: travel to Chautara, the capital of Sindhupalchok district in order to coordinate with the government officials and other humanitarians so that Global Communities can start a program to distribute emergency shelter materials to households in remote, hard-hit areas of the district. The northernmost, highest altitude villages of Nepal were the most affected by the earthquake, with whole villages destroyed. Most affected people in these areas are still sleeping outside, struggling with the psychological and physical effects of such a shock and trying to cope as best they can. The remoteness of the villages make getting aid to them extremely difficult in current conditions and the coming monsoon rains in June will make it even more so. Many are only accessible by trekking several hours along mountain paths.
The drive to Chautara from Kathmandu confirmed what we have been reading in news reports and humanitarian assessments: mountainside villages in Sindhupalchok were devastated, particularly houses constructed of stone and mud.

Collapsed house in Sindhupalchok.
At the same time, we saw many households already beginning the recovery process. We crossed many people sorting salvageable materials  from the rubble piles of their homes, preparing for the urgent task of reconstructing their homes ahead of the June monsoon season.

Households beginning to rebuild.
Upon arriving in Chautara we were able to meet with exhausted government officials, doing their best to provide services to displaced families whose homes had been destroyed, and coordinate with a large influx of humanitarian workers like us. They kindly gave us their time and upon hearing that we intended to try to reach the hardest hit communities in Baruwa, a northern municipality in Sindhupalchok, gladly gave their approval for us to begin our work.
After getting valuable information from the United Nations logistics team, we headed back on the road to Kathmandu, thrilled that we could start providing relief materials to these most-affected families. Bob and I excitedly started discussing next steps: procuring materials with the help of our office in India and coordinating with our local partner, the Helambu Education and Livelihoods Partnership. These discussions were abruptly stopped short about 15 minutes outside Chautara when our driver stopped the car on a mountainside road: rocks were coming down the mountain ahead of us and the car started shaking. I looked to my right down the mountainside and saw the trees whipping back and forth. I think it only lasted 20 or 30 seconds, and then when we thought it was over we continued down the road. Across the valley we could see plumes of dust: more homes collapsed by the shaking.

Dust rises on hillsides across the valley after the 7.3 earthquake on May 12.
We made our way down slowly until we came upon a few stopped cars. The road was blocked by a landslide. It was hard not to think how lucky we had been not to have been at that point during the earthquake.
Fortunately, Canadian military personnel were in the car ahead of us and called for heavy equipment they had in the area. Within three hours the road was cleared and we were able to keep moving. The rest of the trip was quiet. This second earthquake had shaken and sobered us after the morning’s excitement, but having lived through this we are now more committed than ever to providing urgently needed relief to households in Baruwa.
Today more than ever, families need your help to survive today and recover in the months to come. Join our work, by supporting our  Nepal Earthquake Response Fund. Your support will help families in need rebuild their lives and their communities.