By Chad Loftis
In the aftermath of the two strong earthquakes that have devastated Nepal in recent weeks SIM continues to support United Mission to Nepal (UMN) in its efforts to relieve isolated communities in the district of Dhading. Many communities are still in acute crisis and pose serious transportation and access challenges.
In the Lapa subdistrict, for instance, food stores are dangerously depleted and staple maize crops have been “seriously damaged” by pests. But relief efforts are restricted to helicopter drops in more populated areas. After a long wait, UMN has been able to access two tonne WFP helicopters and helicopters from the Indian army. These, along with a small Missionary Aviation Fellowship helicopter, have allowed the relief teams to transport the bulk of the food, tarps, blankets and cooking utensils to regional centres in Dhading. However, getting the supplies to the residents of the many mountain villages is a dangerous prospect.
“Walking trails have been damaged in many places by landslides and broken bridges,” says one recent UMN report, "but a few people have managed to walk down to [the town of] Dhadingbesi by 'putting their lives at risk'. Carrying loads, even on mules is out of the question at the moment."
In spite of the needs of these still desperate rural communities, many of the international, first-response teams are beginning to clear out. Government customs procedures are also reverting to pre-disaster standards which has left a line of supply trucks six or seven kilometres long waiting at the India-Nepal border.
Yet, in Kathmandu people continue to live under tarps or even inside unused sections of sewer piping.
“Generally - because of rumours - they are still too fearful to return to their homes,” says Gabriel Jens, SIM Nepal director. “They fear that another much greater earthquake will come soon and totally destroy their homes or that an epidemic will happen.” Churches and individuals in the city are continuing to “roll up their sleeves and help their neighbour” according to Jens. "Our Anglican church had an extra collection to help people inside as well as outside the city with food, blankets and tarpaulins."
Hopes for a stable situation across the country before the monsoon season starts in earnest next month are becoming strained. Sturdy, temporary shelters that can provide protection from rain and wind while being transportable to mountain areas are still a priority.
SIM has pledged significant financial contributions to UMN’s ongoing relief work as well as to the coming reconstruction phase. Please help us continue to reach isolated communities and start rebuilding medical infrastructure by donating here. Your gifts and prayers are treasured.