Kate’s blog from Nepal: visiting an earthquake

Visiting an earthquake-hit village:

This week we visited one of the villages devastated by the earthquakes. It took us two days to reach the area from Kathmandu.  As we travelled, I noticed a subtle change in the architecture. At first I wondered why many of the houses looked like they belonged in a shantytown; which seemed odd as most mountain houses in Nepal are made from stone, or wood and mud. But as we began to climb, the piles of stones began to become more common, and soon we saw enormous numbers of damaged or destroyed buildings. At this point I suddenly realised that the reason the houses looked like shantytown shacks was because these are the temporary shelters that have sprung up in place of houses.

We arrived on the outskirts of a mountain a village late in the afternoon and were allocated a tent. This is the first tent I have ever needed to use in Nepal.  We were also pre-warned to bring our own food, as there are no supplies currently in these areas.  All of the buildings (well, the handful that I could see) seemed okay, but still in this shantytown style, and I went to sleep reflecting that the situation was not as bad as I had feared….

When we awoke, we climbed higher into the village and were met with a scene of complete and utter devastation. I suddenly realised that my initial impressions were entirely misplaced; we sat down and spoke to some of the villagers, and the situation became clearer.  Where the tin shacks were sitting, had been two or three storey old wooden houses; a beautiful village built up over hundreds of years. But where these had stood now lies piles and piles of rubble.  In amongst the rubble families have erected donated tents, holding on to the land upon which their homes had once stood. The area literally looks like a war zone; not a single building stands.

I sat and spoke to some of the villagers, and was literally moved to tears, in one case, by a woman’s complete and utter loss of hope. One small boy spoke about his recurrent nightmares of the earthquake. The complete lack of external help was as shocking as the scene itself, which made it very difficult to walk away.  However, despite this scene of devastation, what really shone through was the lack of complaining, and the shear determination to get on with their lives.  In the face of adversity, the spirit of the people shone through, and we were received with smiles and generosity.

I will never forget what we have seen, and am more determined than ever that we need to mobilise support to these remote and forgotten regions. We hope that the documentary we are currently filming will serve to raise awareness, and in turn, bring back the attention of the world.

By Kate Yarrow 17/10/15