The Everest Team Witnesses Earthquake Destruction in Nepal
Our journey began in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, a country devastated by a terrible earthquake just one year ago. Kathmandu still has many visible scars from that catastrophic event; the central temple area of Barkhor Square is flanked with buildings in a state of collapse.
Outside of the city, we witnessed even greater human tragedy in a small village called Harisiddhi, just one hour from Kathmandu. We were greeted by a villager called Mohindra and taken on a walk of the village, which left us in no doubt as to the lethal effects of the earthquake.
‘Five people died in this collapsed house,’ Mohindra told us sadly. In total the village had lost almost thirty people.
Many of the victims now live in emergency shelters of canvas and corrugated iron. Families of five or six can be cramped into a tiny living space with only the most basic amenities. Many children have been a full year off school. Others in the village of Harisiddhi have been sick as a result of disrupted water supplies.
When we asked villagers when they thought they would be able to re-build their houses, many of them simply shook their heads. ‘They have no money for construction,’ Mohindra told us. ‘There are rumours that money and materials might be available but we don’t know when.’
In another part of the village we did find some construction but only of the most basic type. Working by hand, without a single machine to mix concrete or help to dig foundations, a team of villagers were working side by side. It was a sign of hope in the midst of a terrible tragedy – an earthquake which cost many thousands of lives and which is still affecting the lives of many tens of thousands more, even as the first year anniversary comes round.
Yet throughout this dark chapter the people of Nepal remain positive and optimistic. Many villagers smiled as they welcomed us into their basic shelters. Earthquakes are deadly and unpredictable but they cannot squash the spirit of these wonderful people.