The author, Nandishi Shriram

The author, Nandishi Shriram
Colors myriad, yet a land unexplore

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Gorkha Earthquake 2015

April 25th, 2015 was the worst day in the history of Nepal. No one knew what was going to hit them. At 11.56 am, 25th April, an earthquake of the magnitude of 7.8 mw on the Ritcher scale shook the very core of Nepal, leaving many injured, dead, homeless, missing. The Gorkha Earthquake killed more than 7,000 people and injured twice as many. Numbers are still on the rise. The epicentre lay in Barpak village of Gorkha district.

It was the most powerful disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake. Some casualties have also been reported in the adjoining areas of India, China, and Bangladesh. The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing at least 19, making it the deadliest day on the mountain in history. Mountaineers trekking there have gone missing It triggered another huge avalanche in Langtang valley, where 250 are now missing..

Hundreds of thousands of houses were destroyed rendering people homeless with entire villages flattened, across many districts of the country. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley, including some at the Kathmandu Durbar Square, the Patan Durbar Square and the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Geophysicists and other experts had warned for decades that Nepal was vulnerable to a deadly earthquake, particularly because of its geology, urbanization, and architecture. Continued aftershocks have occurred throughout Nepal, with one shock reaching a magnitude of 6.7 on 26 April at 12:54:08 NST. The country is at continued risk of landslides as well.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, at a house in the esteemed Lutyens’ zone, works quietly a group of dedicated individuals in aiding the Nepal quake hit to come to terms with the tragedy that has struck them and their dearly beloved. This dedicated group is the Hope For Nepal Foundation, which was set up on August 23rd 2010 by Praggyashree Raje Gaekwad.

The Hope for Nepal Foundation’s Delhi branch is based out of Priyadarshini Raje Scindia’s home, where tonnes of relief material are pouring in every single day, by the hour, by the minute. A team of dedicated people, Shivani Rajyalakshmi Singh, Priyadarshini Raje Scindia, Pragyat Singh, Nima Martins Sherpa and many others work in the gruelling scorching Sun every single day, forgetting to eat, let alone drink water, to sift supplies, the perishables and the non-perishables, the immediate and the not so immediate in need, ensuring that all relief supplies that arrive are sent in good condition, by road and by air. Jet Airways has been requested to keep slots for the Foundation and has been airlifting the supplies whenever a slot is available. A distribution team at the other end, in Kathmandu, has been deployed to receive and ably distribute the relief supplies. Monetary aid has been coming in to Hope For Nepal Foundation to help in rehabilitating the poor and needy.

Friends of HFNF have rallied around, sending tents, essential supplies like dry ration, instant food, biscuits, medicines, water, warm clothes, blankets, medicines, injections, tarpaulins, water and even thin tin roofs. The founder of the group. Praggyashree Raje Gaekwad, herself a doctor is in Nepal with the help of her able group of Nepalese kinsmen are distributing the relief supplies. Trucks of goods are being loaded every other day, with people deployed at the Indo-Nepal border to receive the goods so that no pilferage occurs. Mobile hospitals have been set up, soup kitchens with the HFNF’s kinsmen and staff help the needy and devastated.

HFNF has been dedicated to helping at the grassroots of Nepal for the last 5 years. The outreach of help is now spilling over to villages that have been wiped out by the earthquake. HFNF is primarily dedicated to helping Sankhu village which is now a ghost town as 90% of the village has been totally flattened out by the earthquake. Shelter tents, sleeping bags, blankets, tarpaulins, torches, water, instant food, first aid kits, medicines have been provided by the Foundation. Search buses have been deployed for the missing and displaced. Ambulances are on standby to rush the injured to nearby hospitals. HFNF dedicates itself to moving from one devastated village to another, working to ensure that these villages get resuscitated.

It’s heartening to see the people of Nepal, fighting against all odds to give back to their own country, in the land of the Buddha, the land of calm and peace. Groups in India have been helping too in every possible way, creating help whatsapp groups, volunteer groups etc. Doon School Old Boys' Association, Midlands Langar Sewa and many other groups have been rallying forth to help the Nepal Quake affected. 

Families have gone missing, houses have been reduced to rubble and villages have been wiped out. Heritage sites have been reduced to nothing.  There are places high up in the mountains where people are totally stranded with no one being able to reach them, not even helicopters. The Indian Army, the Nepalese Army and the Nepal citizens are trying their utmost best to help the land that we all have loved dearly, having visited it at least once in our lives. Volunteers, doctors, others are in the midst of this massive devastation, helping the injured, the homeless, the starving. Numbers are on the rise as many are lying dead under rubble. Onset of disease is setting in. Monetary aid is pouring in from various countries but as a land that has a huge deficit, it will take at least 2-3 years for Nepal to be rehabilitated and back to its former glory.

In this time of crisis, we as a Nation, must come together and pledge to help Nepal, a country that is dear to all. We must have heart as the Sun that has been shining for us, must shine once again for our Nepal.

A moving poem written by Shivani Rajya Lakshmi Singh:

"While you sleep peacefully on a comfortable bed, my people are awake waiting for the slightest ruffle in the bush.

While you sit with a belly full of food, my people lie restless  and hungry.

While you enjoy a luxurious bath, my people are thirsty.

While you host gala dinners, my people wait for electricity.

While you travel to exotic lands, my people are trapped under rubble.

While you wake up in an air conditioned room, my people seek shelter from the rain.

While you sit around and speculate 

My country bleeds..."

For donations, please draw a cheque in favour of:
Hope For Nepal Foundation
And send to: 27 Safdarjung Road, New Delhi

Written by Nandishi Shriram. Email: nandishi.shriram@gmail.com