Our last blog was written about trying to get back to normal in the second week after “The Earthquake!”
As you will all know just a few days later we had a second big earthquake on the 12th May, not as big as the first, but enough to terrify and send people back outside. This one was a 7.4. Sam and Dan were both at KISC, while Mim and I were at home this time round. I was glad to have Mim with me as I’d only picked her up from her first day back at preschool (since the first earthquake) less than an hour before. We got down on the floor and waited it out before running out as fast as we could once it was finished. I remembered to grab my mobile this time round – but totally forgot the grab bag we’d packed and left by the front door! After a quick “everyone ok” with the landlord’s family I got my bike from the garage and Mim and I raced down to KISC to find the whole school lined up on the basketball court pretty calmly. Sam smiled and waved as if it was a normal day and I went to find Dan to let him know we were there and okay.
We spent the afternoon and another night on the school basketball court before heading home the next morning. We weren’t sure whether to stay another night, but in the end decided we would move home again after just one night this time. The aftershocks have continued, but less frequent and less powerful this time around which has helped keep us calmer. We have moved Sam’s bed into Mim’s room and decided that they will sleep together for the time being. KISC closed for two days before reopening on Friday. Mim’s preschool started again today after a week, but they are staying in the garden under a tarp and only 9 of the 32 children came on the first day.
People are scared. There are a lot still sleeping outside. I think after the first quake we were scared with all the aftershocks, but as things calmed down everyone started to move back inside assuming it was now done, but now with a second one people are more scared and don’t trust that the worst is over – which of course no one can promise even if the chances of another big one are miniscule. This is not helped by rumours going round that “the big one” is still to come.
So this week we have tried again to get back to some kind of normality, but we see fear and loss all around. Yesterday our local veg shop was demolished. It was a really old tumble down mud and straw house with gaping holes in the roof and cracks in the walls. The police came and told them to move everything out and then had it demolished. I don’t know where they have gone or what they will do now as their house was also destroyed in the Earthquake.
Relief efforts are continuing, still trying to get food and shelter to remote areas. Thoughts have moved on to how we can provide longer term for those living under tarps with the monsoon rains less than a month away. Homes cannot be rebuilt in that time, but tarpaulins are not enough to keep out monsoon rain. Short term homes know as Portal homes made out of corrugated iron are starting to be taken out to villages. These cost only $100 but even that is too much for some families.
The government is encouraging different organisations to set up children’s camps in open safe spaces to provide some activities for the children while schools remain closed. It is thought that at least a million children are going to be out of school with buildings damaged and destroyed or being used as shelter. These safe places or children’s camps are helping, but I think they are mainly concentrated within the Kathmandu valley at the moment.
The education ministry held a meeting yesterday and is putting together a plan to try and help the nearly 7000 effected schools start again (and that’s only the government schools). They are looking at providing psychological training for staff so that they know how to support their students. They also need to get engineers out to assess all the school buildings and then try to repair and rebuild classrooms and the infrastructure needed for them to operate such as toilets and a water supply.
Nepal has an overwhelming task ahead of it. With monsoon coming the risk of sickness spreading with poor and contaminated water supplies will grow. The remote areas worst affected will be even harder to reach and while foreign aid has flooded in initially the UN estimate that only 14% of the $423 million needed to rebuild has been given.