Saturday, 9 May 2015

2 Weeks On

Walk to our local shop
This morning at 11.56 it will be 2 weeks since we had a 7.9 earthquake here in Kathmandu. Dan has written some about the first week and how school has managed, and so I wanted to write a little about what this second week has been like as we have returned to some kind of normality.

In the first few days after the earthquake our initial worries were about how we were going to get supplies. Were we going to be able to get food and water and how long would shortages last? However, within just a few days the power supply was starting to come back for short periods, and since the end of the last week we have been having power for 24 hours a day (compared to the normal 6-10 hours a day of power cuts at this time of year). Soon after some people started reporting that they were getting water coming in from the city line (which should come to most houses twice a week), as I write this 2 weeks later our house has still not had any city water. The landlord ordered one water tanker last weekend for our 3 flats, not sure how long one will last, but we may need to get another soon. Shops began opening in the days soon after and as the week has gone on even fresh milk became available and I managed to get yogurt yesterday. So the shortages have not happened as we feared, but water is a big issue for many, especially those who cannot afford a tanker. 

The skies are busy with the sound of relief flights coming in and out. Last week they were flying overhead day and night, they have now stopped in the middle of the night thankfully, but we often hear them coming in in the late evening and then taking off at about 5am having spent the night unloading. These planes are big and can't get altitude quickly so in the early morning, as you are waking up, the noise can lead to panic or confusion - is it another earthquake or is their a rocket taking off or landing on our roof?! We have learnt to distinguish the different sounds between windows rattling due to a plane overhead or the deeper rumbling of an aftershock!

People are very busy with relief work at the moment. My facebook news feed is full of requests for help and pictures of destroyed villages which local friends and organisations which I follow have been to see and help. There is now a shortage of tarpaulins in the whole country as so many are desperate for some kind of shelter. Most taking aid in seem to be taking tarps, rice and water with the hope they can take more longer term supplies later to help people get back on their feet.

We are still getting regular aftershocks, the most recent one I felt was a 4.9 at 6.17 am yesterday morning (Fri 8th May). Most of them just feel like a sudden jolt, so they give you a shock but then are finished. It's the occasional one like we had at 3.40 on Thursday morning (7th May) which was actually smaller at 3.3, but was presumably closer or shallower as it seemed bigger and lasted a few seconds and was more of a shaking, and so gives you time to react and think, but even this one was done before we got up. Thankfully the kids seem not to be noticing these.

Engineers are in huge demand at the moment as people worry about the safety of their homes. Many have fresh cracks and have no idea whether they are safe or not. Thankfully our home has no new cracks and so we have been able to move back in without fear about the safety of our home. Our primary principal at KISC and her family are currently house hunting after part of their house was deemed unsafe to live in.  Very unsettling for them, but worse for the landlord who will now has to find out if he can repair it or whether he needs to rebuild.

It is estimated that over half a million people have left Kathmandu valley after the earthquake as most people traveled back to their home villages to see the damage and help with the clean up. The government closed all schools for 3 weeks too and so it has been very quiet in Kathmandu. However, millions of children will not have schools to go to at the end of this 3 week period, let alone uniforms, books, pencils, teachers, etc.

This week has been quite surreal in many ways. We spend our time with others talking about the earthquake, aftershocks, the relief effort and we spend our free time reading all the stories online or just trying to switch of from it with some mindless TV. Sometimes it just breaks our hearts and other times it feels really quite distant as our lives are quickly returning to a relatively normal routine. We are tired, the kids are tired too, so the days seem long. It's hard to plan and think beyond the immediate at times, and yet we know we are not the victims in this, our experiences were scary and traumatic but we are able to pick ourselves up and get on very quickly, something so many here don't have the luxury of and so while I can tell you my story it is nothing compared to others who have lost everything.

This country and it's people are strong and beautiful and it has been a privileged to see them helping one another and leading the relief efforts for their own country. They are not victims and with the right support this country will rise up again and I pray that it will rise up stronger then it was before and move forward from this to a great future that it's people deserve, but it is going to take time and support.

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