“Today, I am so happy!” says Grandmother Rudhasa Kumari. From her home high on the mountainside, the 85-year-old iron lady has trekked down to the bottom of the valley to get relief supplies.
A relief instalment of Finn Church Aid and its partner UCEP has arrived in the remote village of Bukhel, a three hours’ drive from Kathmandu on a seemingly endless road that stretches on the mountainside narrow and full of holes.
Houses are spread far apart on the steep slopes. Down in the valley flows a glistening mountain creek and plains shimmer golden in the afternoon sun. Women harvest the crops in their fiery red clothes.
The beauty of the scenery makes the tragedy feel somehow even more touching.
Half the houses in the village have collapsed and many others have suffered heavy damage. Three people lost their lives: a grandmother, a six-year-old child and a small baby.
Landslides blocked the roads leading to the village for four days, and 12 severely injured people were evacuated by helicopter.
Rudhasa Kumari says this is the first delivery relief supplies to reach their village.
Two weeks’ worth of food for the village
Five FCA trucks have brought the approximately 400 families of the village relief packages that contain a waterproof canvas, blankets, a sleeping pad and enough food to feed each family for 15 days.
Despite the dire needs of the villagers, distributing the packages goes through in an unbelievably well organised manner. The villagers patiently await their turn, and the distributed supplies are meticulously monitored to make sure everyone gets their share.
It feels especially important that the relief packages have arrived today, on Tuesday, May 12, when a new magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit Nepal at noon.
The powerful quake knocked down more buildings on the already devastated areas. Dozens of people died and 2,000 were injured in different parts of the country.
Worst, however, is the fear brought back by the new quake, just as people were starting to recover from the shock of the first one.
Time for gratitude
Receiving the relief supplies makes the villagers smile. The horrors of the day subside and give way to hope.
The villagers give abundant thanks to us. The real people to thank are the donors far away, back in Finland. We are only delivering their help.
I am just as grateful to these wonderful villagers, for their smiles and their glowing warmth in the midst of this terrible catastrophe that has destroyed their homes and most of their possessions.
I’m grateful for the fact that even this small amount of help seems to suffice, at least for now. That, for at least today, the worries of the future can wait until tomorrow.
I’m grateful for the fact that the villagers remind me how strong we humans are when we need to be, when we have no choice but to carry our burden.
Night is falling. The villagers pick up their belongings and head back to their homes on the roadless slopes of the mountains. Those who only need to walk an hour back home get off easy. It may take up to three hours to walk to the houses furthest away.
They will arrive home, guided by the bright starlit sky of the Nepal countryside.
Text and photos: Antti Helin/Kathmandu
Finn Church Aid fundraising for the victims of the Nepal earthquake
Donations account: Nordea IBAN FI33 1572 3000 5005 04, reference number (viitenumero) 4022.