The big day has arrived! We come back to
The 10 volunteers of Hanuman Onlus are leaving today for Kathmandu. They need our presence and our help.
Yesterday evening our Nepalese volunteers have released the 20 tents sent from Italy on the 18th of July. They are strong and well structured tents, like the ones used by the Protezione Civile, so big enough to host ten/fifteen people each and to endure the violence of the monsoons, the hard sun and winter, considering that many families won't be able to rebuild their homes in time. The tents will be donated to the families of the children of the Happy Child project who have been left without a home.
We will visit our 15 schools, declared unlivable by the commitee of Nepalese experts; with the State techs and our Italian engineer, an expert in post-earthquake rebuilding, we will verify what work is to be done to repair safely our schools, so that almost 5000 students will be able to go back and attend their lessons as before. Today the lessons are being held in temporary structures made in bamboo, or under tents.
We will meet the children of the Happy Child project to bring them help and economic support for the reconstruction of their houses. We will meet other orphans and earthquake victims that need our help.
The energy we have received from the many people who supported us in these past months has given us the necessary strength to face this new adventure on Nepalese soil, only 3 months after the earthquake of the 25th of April 2015. In us "survivors" the emotion of those terrible days in Nepal is still alive and strong.
We want to thank all who supported us, we thank Avventure nel Mondo who supports Hanuman Onlus since 2004 and who has given 5 tents, as well as the Specchio dei Tempi foundation, with their fundraising campaign held by the Turin Stampa newspaper.
29 July 2015
As always the landing in Kathmandu brings us a great emotion, today more than ever. We come back to Nepal three months after the terrible 25th of April 2015. Our friends are there to greet us at the airport, smiling and even with a welcome sign. They are all fine and are filled with enthusiasm and energy for the work that waits for us in the next few days. The streets of the capital city have been cleared of debris and the streets are filled with the tents of the refugees from the villages.
Today we come back from Benighat where we have checked the state of the schools and lived with the Happy Child childrens days of great effort and fun. The kids are all fine although they are still afraid of the continuous earthquakes; we have managed to distract them by playing and drawing with them and by taking them around the village with us.
With the state engineer we have checked the state of the schools and the work necessary to bring them back to safety. The news are not positive, the two biggest need a lot of work - they have to be rebuilt completely. Three more need structural work and the rebuilding of some of the rooms; two have minor damages. To reach the schools we have used trucks: sitting on their backs we have reached them after hours of hard and steep roads. The high heat, the relentless sun and the temperatures over 40 degrees make our jobs much harder, also considering that some schools are only reached on foot, after hours of mountain walking.
In the Benighat village most of the houses have received great structural damages that don't allow inside living anymore, other have collapsed. People from the village have organised themselves to build small houses, structures in zinc and/or brick and zinc, where to live in security during the monsoons.
Together with our Nepalese volunteers we have built seven tent for seven families needing of shelter, the mounting and placing operations have been moments of joy thanks also to the help of the friends of the village, who manage to remain serene even in these dramatic moments.
30 July 2015
Today we have visited the villages of Bhirpani, Sidkha, Maghigaon and Dukha. We depared at 5.30 am to reach Maghigaon, a small fishing village totally destroyed by the earthquake, where we have built 28 zinc houses to host the people of the village. We also built 2 tents, one for the community and the other one for the local school and its 58 students.
The power of the earthquake is devastating: 90% of the buildings are destroyed and collapsed; we, who have lived the terrible moments of the 25th of April, can understand how these poor people must feel. Walking around the houses and the village we feel the sadness and desolation, which soon pass when we see their dignity: they have organised themselves, also with our help, in building the small houses.
The work in the fields has resumed and all around rice and corn are coltivated.
The welcome they have for us every time we visit this village fills us with emotion and today even more, when their surprise in seeing us three months after the sad event has been equal to our emotion in seeing them filled with energy and ready to regain their everyday life.
As soon as we have finished to set up the school tent the teachers and the kids have worked to make it operational right away, adding school materials and preparing a small nursery.
We make our way on a truck to Birphani, where we check the situation of our school. The welcome is warm and the children greet us with clapping and flowers, as always. While some of us play and sing together with the many students, the others verify with the Nepalese engineers the damages caused by the earthquake. The school is unhabitable, the damages are quite heavy and important reconstruction works are needed.
We proceed to Dukha where at the entrance to the village we find a sign with "Hanuman Village" written on it: it's the community's way of thanking us for the help we are giving. The village is completely destroyed. We have built 80 small houses. The greeting with welcome chants from the mothers of the village fills us with emotion. All around, only destruction. In this village too the families have helped each other so to quickly build with us a shelter made of bamboo and zinc in the shortest time possible.
We also erect a big tent that can shelter more families in need.
On the way back we stop in a small school completely destroyed where we are greeted with lots of love and with requests for help.
We arrive back at the capital at 11.30 pm.
31 July - 01 August 2015
Left the stuffy heat of Benighat and Ramechhap we are in the cool valley of Kathmandu, cool only thanks to the monsoon rains that never stop and block out the warm August sun.
Waiting for the Nepalese engineer we allow ourselves a small break and visit the gorgeous city of Bhaktapur. The ancient city has been hit by the earthquake and some temples and monuments are destroyed but even then the charm it evokes is still there, thanks also to the immediate clearing of the debris, softening the visual of the devastation. Entering more deeply, the signs of the earthquake are still very evident and walking on piles of debris in the narrow alleys is a blow to the stomach. We meet some of the children of the Happy Child project and we discover that some of them still live in their homes, slightly damaged, while others have to live in the camp set up by the governement, or in emergency shelters built out of zinc.
With the Nepalese engineers we visit the last three schools: the first with heavy damages and in need of important structural repairs, the second luckily with light damages and the third one with no damages at all. In the schools the children recognize us and immediately greet us and sing chants and songs with us. These moments always fill us with energy and strength to continue in helping these marvellous people.
We proceed to Kirtipur where we meet more kids of the Happy Child project, all their homes have been destroyed or heavily damaged and therefore inhabitable. The thing that always surprises us is the serenity with which they face adversity. As we talk to them they show us their suprise and happiness in seeing us, and lots and lots of dignity. They are living in temporary shelters built out of bricks, bamboo and zinc.
Our presence and help are precious for the many victims of the earthquake and the warmth and love shown by all our children is clear in their greeting smiles and their thankful eyes.
2 August 2015 - 3 August 2015
"Somebody asked me what do we care about Nepal. And I answer: where there is a man, only one, there we are too, where there is memory of a past there we will find the new modulation of the same illusions, the diverse, but not discordant, truthfulness of the archetypes of the human spirit." (Giuseppe Tucci, Nepal: discovering the kingdom of the Malla.)
We are in the last days of our mission in Nepalese land.
Today the headlines of all the Nepalese newspapers are of the new disaster in the Lumle village that caused the death of 33 people. The monsoons that have been mentioned so much have arrived, upsetting the landmasses and causing mudslides in many parts of a country already hit by the earthquake of the last 25th of April.
Reading the sad news we remember how in the days of the earthquake we had organised the first help interventions for the Nepalese people: together with the Nepalese volunteers we had created a web of help in those villages hit by the destroying power of the quake and not yet reached by the International organizations.
Now, three months later, we are back in Nepal to bring our attention on the children we directly follow and who belong to the Happy Child project, and to focus on our schools to return to use the structures heavily hit by the quake, so to bring the children back in school and to their normal everyday life.
We leave early to reach the village of Sakhu where we meet the last children of the Happy Child project. The historic centre of the city has been completely destroyed, 90% of the buildings have collapsed and been declared inhabitable. Some of them with their families are settled in temporary huts, some others have built with our help the bamboo houses. The meeting as always is filled with emotion and afffection, we speak to each of them in front of their destroyed homes and their dignity is without equal, we should learn so much from their attitude.
We then go to the Happy Child children in Patan. Many of them have to live in temporary shelters or even worse in the damaged houses which have been declared inhabitable by the government. We gave to all of them the possibility of moving into bamboo and zinc houses, as there was not enough space to mount the tents we had brought from Italy. From all of them we receive a smile, the best gift after the day that we have just lived.
In these days of close contact with the children, their families and our friends and Nepalese volunteers we have seen the smile come back and the desire to start again grow. The farmers even in all these difficulties are back to the land, the cultivations of rice, corn, eggplants, potatoes and much more are back, greening the hills and valleys of the country.
The traffic in the valley is back, sign that the commercial activities are restarting. The tent camps are getting smaller, the artisans are getting back into their work. The tourists are still very scarce, the airplanes arriving are empty like the street and the shops of the tourist corner of Thamel.
Only you are missing beside these people.
4 August 2015 - 5 August 2015
Last hours in Nepal, then we are back in Italy.
We meet the Ministers of Internal and External Affairs of the Nepalese government, who thank us for what we have done in the past years and for our continuous presence in Nepal.
We visit Durbar Square in Kathmandu, maybe the most hit by the quake: easy to notice the work that has been done to clear the debris and to secure the monuments.
In the square right in front of the offices of the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police there are some tents that substitute the damaged rooms of the school. We talk to the principal and discover that they need stronger tents able to withstand the monsoon rains, the ones that they have have been ripped by the fury of the wind that in the past weeks has hit the capital.
We decide to donate one of the tents that we have brought from Italy. The students are very happy in seeing the new tent and follow the phases of its mounting with wide eyes and lots of enthusiasm.
The group leaves for Italy in the evening, 2 volunteers remain to follow the works we have started.