Touch down Nepal – Emotional to say the least

antFlying from Bhutan to Nepal over the roof of the world, the Himalayan summits penetrated the clouds and all seemed idyllic. This is the complete contrast to what actually lies hidden below as I touched down in Kathmandu.

My first impressions as we came in to land were surprisingly positive at first, no mass destruction obvious from the plane, but then I spotted the mosaic of colored tarpaulins filling every spare bit of open space below, scattered throughout the capital. As the plane taxied to the terminal I could also see military planes loading to depart. The first response teams have done their jobs and have started to depart whilst the aid teams are still on the ground working throughout Nepal. Equally the press seems to have departed as well!

On the ground it was a little more subdued then the vibrancy that I’m used to, but in a weird way driving through the city to the hotel, it did seem the same old Nepal I love and it feels right for me to be here at this time.
At the hotel I was joined by a friend of 25 years, Gerry Moffatt, who has also been here to see for him self the effects of the disaster. Unexpectantly during a catch up over breakfast the windows shook, deep rumbling surrounded us and everyone in the room looked more than a little worried, expecting the worse, only to find out it was one of the many low flying military helicopters passing over the city. By the reaction in the room it was immediately evident that everyone is living in permanent fear of more to come. There have been over 100 tremors and aftershocks since the first quake, with the latest one yesterday.

Every one uses stairs and not the lifts and carrying passports at all times seem to be the general rules!P1010563 (3)

This afternoon I ventured into the older area of Kathmandu, ‘Bhaktapur’ famous for its old temples and religious sites. It was hard to walk around without sharing there loss at the destruction of these 12th century structures all tightly squeezed into one area, with many totally gone and others propped up full of cracks. Speaking to local’s in the area they estimated 1500 + have died as a result of the destruction just in this part of the city and now many of the buildings still standing will need demolishing and are presently unsafe. Many were out clearing rubble with their hands and families sifting through debris for remnants of their home.

There seems to be a lot of movement of people as a result of the earthquake. Many have left Kathmandu for the safety of villages unaffected by the earthquake, scared of the risk of further shocks and already damaged properties. I have also seen those that have fled their rural villages where homes were flattened, to find shelter in the capital, even if it is only a tarp over their head. – It’s the safer option.

Gerry and I met up with a friend Mahendra Thapa, which was more of a reunion for the 3 of us as we were once partners in a resort about 2 hours North East of Kathmandu at Sukute. This area and district called Sindhupalchok is one of the areas worst hit with an estimated 60000 of the 65000 homes flattened to the ground and still many without shelter and the onset of the monsoon season fast approaching. Mahendra is helping manage the international teams on the ground to ensure help is distributed to those most in need and doing a fantastic job.

After checking a few friends are OK around Kathmandu tomorrow, I’m heading up to the Sindhupalchok area to see for myself.

I have been warned it looks like a war zone and has been completely flattened, but this is an area where I have worked, lived in their communities, built schools, trained guides and made many friends. This is the reason I came. To show these communities that the help has not gone, but is here for the long-term redevelopment of communities such as these.

The ‘Nepal Appeal’ now has its own dedicated website with all the fund raising events and details of our total target of £25,000. I will be posting daily updates on the ‘news’ tab on the site from Nepal whilst I am here and we will be adding details of the projects that the appeal will support. The ‘Nepal Appeal’ is in the process of becoming a registered UK charity with the Charity commission and operates a charity bank account administered by a board of trustees. This ensures all proceeds raised will then go directly to projects on the ground in Nepal and the communities that need our help.

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As my first day comes to and end in Nepal I get a call from friends whose office I partner in Kathmandu who have left the city for the safety of their home village. There office is unsafe and they fear being in their own home with the obvious risk of more after shocks. With one of them in plaster with a broken leg and restricted ability to react – the risk is too high. Their desperation for an end to these tragic events and the thoughts of such a massive recovery can be heard in their voices, and you can’t help but get a little emotional!

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