It has been an interesting first few days on the ground here in Nepal. After getting settled in on Friday, Saturday was quite the day.
We took a helicopter up into up into the mountain district of Sindupalchauk where we are working in the VDC (Village Development Council...similar to a County as best I can tell) known as Listo. This region is totally mountainous and small farming villages are spread across the hillsides.
Many of the villages were affected by the first quake and saw major destruction. Following the second quake, most of the villages still with buildings standing were totally destroyed. Because of its mountainous remote nature, this left many of villages up the mountain cutoff from the larger villages in the vallies were most of the regular resources are located.
It is hard to imagine the level of destruction until you have had the opportunity to see it first hand. Having arrived in Kathmandu to a scene of relatively minimal damage (save for the wall down here or there and the many cracked and slightly damaged structures), seeing the devastation in the mountain areas really leaves one rendered speechless.
We were dropped into a remote village after a 20 min. flight, basically landing on the plateaued farming area of village. After trekking up the 60-70 yards into the village it was somewhat surprising to see small shack like structures. Through our interpreter we quickly found out that the shacks were being built from materials rescued from the rubble to provide the most basic of shelter.
We met with the village elder and after a conversation with him and some other villagers tried to assess the needs. One of the needs was communication. The village had power previous to the quake and miraculously also had cell reception! The locals said that services was still available, but they had no way of charging phones. Luckily, we came with a solar charger in tow and left it behind for the village community to be able to connect beyond the mountain setting.
The chopper arrived back to us about 45 minutes after we had arrived carrying a full load of rice on board. We dropped half the rice along with water purification tablets at our location and took the rest to the location our second team had been dropped to. It doesn't seem like much, but for those with nothing it seemed to make all the difference just knowing that folks did care and indeed had not forgotten them.
Sunday was a much different experience as we visited two Army managed camps in Benepa, the historic and ancient part of the Province. The two camps are separated only by a hillside, with one up top and the other down below. The camps are surround by old shrines and Chinese influenced architecture, dating back hundreds of years.
It was sad to see such old buildings destroyed and the loss of such history. It was even sadder to see people forced from their home living in the tent cities we call camps. Some had chosen to stay in their homes or business and you looked on with awe as people had shops open in buildings barely still standing where it seemed as though the lightest breeze would force it crashing down.
These experiences really remind me why it is I am here working halfway around the world. It is easy to get caught up in the details, and often the insignificant aspects of everyday life, or even disaster relief work... But it's in seeing the struggles of people to survive and more so, the resilience of people to keep going, that reminds us all that we are here for a purpose. We may not know or understand why at times, but God puts us in places and situations for a reason and its in his trust that we can go forward.