Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nepal: Overdue Update!

So by now if you are still following the bog (and I thank you for that), you had to have realized I am horrible at providing regular updates.  That is partly because we have been very busy the last few weeks and also because I usually type these at night when I am too tired to want to sit in front of the computer.

That said I am a bit anxious to provide you with an update on what has been happening!

We have had a lot of transition on our team the last few weeks.  About 10 days ago, our once team of 12 was down to about 5 of us working for a couple of days!  Thankfully we are back up to eight (8) current team members. 

We added Sulemon, another of our friends from Pakistan followed a short day later by David our resident New Zealander.  Then this week we added Nazia, also from Pakistan, and Silo from India within the home Territory here in India East (the Mizoram region).  We have had a few departures including today Macdonald and Carol, who was our team leader the last 4 weeks, both headed back to Pakistan.

With transition always comes adjustment and new challenges.  The team leader transition is made smooth and easy by George, one of our current team members, taking over the helm.   That said it has been quite busy and a lot has been happening here.

The biggest news since my last update (well maybe not and I may have mentioned it before, but it was a big deal for me so I’ll mention it again) is that we got our tents released from Customs!  We had 1,000 tents shipping from Pakistan that we thought for a brief moment may never arrive between customs issues in Pakistan, and shipping issues, followed by horrendous issues here in Nepal receiving.  The good news is they are here now and not a moment too soon, with the monsoon season now upon us.

The monsoons also bring with them added complications.  Imagine a mountainous terrain, with many villages, recently struck by a major earthquake, followed by frequent and sometimes intense aftershocks, that now must worry about landslides and heavy intense rainfall…..that my friends is this year’s monsoon season here in Nepal!

Aside from the weather, we have been going strong with distributions these last few weeks.  We are distributing everything from food, to tents, to tarps, to blankets, even school supplies.  The distributions we do are basically two types.  One is for the camps we manage, which range from 80 to over 200 families. 

The others are for large areas called VDC’s, which are Village Development Councils.  A VDC is similar to a county, which is then broken into Wards, usual with 9 wards in each.  These range in size from a small one of roughly 600+ families, to a larger one we signed on with today which is over 3,000 families.  The distributions we do here can be as large as 1,200 families and take a significant amount of time to plan and coordinate. 

Through our distributions thus far we have given out over 300,000kg’s of food (over 750k lbs…in American terms), over 3,000 tarps, soon almost 500 tents, school supplies to more than 800 children, along with blankets, cooking kits, hygiene, kits and more…..its been a bit busy!

Within those busy days there have been some real highlights.  Not the least of which was a trip to a place called Thame, in the Solucumbu region.  It is a remote mountain trekking village on the opposite side of a valley from Mt. Everest.  We had received a specific request for help there through a trekker in the states who has relationships with the village. 

After our initial flight there was scratched due to weather, we did finally reach Thame a few days later.  The cloud cover was pretty significant, so we didn’t really get a chance to appreciate the true beauty of the area until we just about hit the ground there.

There is a bit of a stigmatism here when it comes to the Everest region.  Because they have connection to Trekkers and Trekking organizations all over the world, they feel as though their needs are taken care of and therefore don’t need any additional help.  Unfortunately, that is far from the case.

We received word through a trekker that has a connection to Thame, and after assessing their quickly realized their needs are just as significant as other hard hit areas.  In fact, they are further complicated by the brutal weather conditions and winds, as well as the logistical challenges in reaching there.  Only larger helicopters can reach these remote villages and due to the altitude the payload must be reduce to allow for extra fuel.

Most of the village was totally destroyed.  A few homes were recognizable in the damage, but none were anywhere near livable.  After a brief one hour assessment and discussion of their need, we had a short tour of the makeshift village they constructed from tents and tarps (most purchased on their own or already owned) before departing.  We did have a unique opportunity to share in prayer with the largely Buddhist community, each of us praying in our own ways for each other.

When we left we inquired about the chance at seeing Everest while up in the region (hey your this close right, you can’t not ask!) and fortunately for us the clouds had lifted just enough for us to attempt the trip. 

We flew for roughly 10 minutes up the eastern valley and into the valley which is home to the lower Everest base camp.  This is the area that every Everest climber has to pass through.  It is amazing seeing the huge snow capped mountains all around in every direction.  For the brief, 8-9 minutes we were there the cloud cover was perfect and we could see just about everything.

Our pilot was probably the best I had flown with since being here.  That is saying a lot as well, as every pilot here is good and we have been told by numerous people (including many foreign pilots and flight experts) that pilots here are some of the best in the world because of the complicated terrain and flying conditions.  He was able to maneuver the chopper with ease and give all 5 of us inside views in each direction….clearly he had done this kind of thing many times before!

Right before we turn to make the flight back he pointed into the distance and shouted “the peak with the cloud coming off of it”….. That was when we got our brief opportunity to see the tallest mountain in the world!

Needless to say everyone on board was quite excited in that moment.  It was as if the lord pulled back the curtain for us for a few minutes so that we can see the beauty of his work.  It was a sort of small thank you for the work we have been doing.

So that is the update I have for you today.  I will post picture soon…since I know many are interested (especially since everyone has asked be if I’ve been to Everest since arriving…as if it is a local theme park or something). 

It has been a busy, challenging and rewarding last few weeks here on the ground.  I am very much anticipating the last week of work here and even more so the trip home…..well not necessarily the ridiculously long flight, but certainly seeing the family once again!

Until nest time!

Bob Myers

EDS Director
Pendel Division

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