It was April 25th 2015, the centenary of ANZAC day. A day where New Zealand and Australia put aside their sporting rivalry to pay tribute to the soilders that landed in Gallipoli and ultimately, lost their lives. While we were paying our respects to our kinsmen some 8000km away a tragedy in its own right was taking place.
It was 11:56am local time and the rituals of Saturday were in full swing with absolutely no warning of what was about to happen. It started with a low rumble, like the distant hum of a fright train only the impact was that of something with exceptionally more power. The violence this earthquake held was enough to rip buildings off their foundations, destroy century old temples and rip lives apart. It lasted approximately 50 seconds but those involved will tell you that you cannot tell time when it stands still.
This beast measured a massive magnitude 8.1 on the richter scale. The epicenter was 34km east of the district of Lamjung, Nepal and 15km deep. It’s shallow origin attributing to the violent nature if this quake. At least 38 aftershocks measuring above 4.5 on the richter scale, were felt in the 24 hours following the initial quake.
The earthquake itself was classed as a thrust quake. This occurred along a fault line where the Indian plate, which descends underneath the Eurasian plate meet and a build up of pressure was released. This caused a massive shift of energy and as a result these plates were thrust in opposites directions and the result is the devastation Nepal has witnessed.
There were 9,000 souls who lost their lives that day, and the days following. Another 23,000 sustained serious injuries and thousands more were displaced. Today, 6 months on there are still families who are living in a tent city in the heart of Kathmandu Valley. Camp Hope it is ironically named, ironic due to the fact that many people here are hopeless. They feel forgotten by their government, tourist don’t venture to this area and the initial aid teams have all left them to be.
This is in the metropolis of Nepal, the surrounding rural areas have it a great deal worse. One terrifying trend which is occurring is the human trafficking trade. A natural disaster is a godsend for human traffickers, many on scene before military officials and aid organisations taking advantage of the chaos. More recently it has been making headlines here. Woman are lured with the promise of work in neighboring countries in order to help support their families, instead they are raped, beaten and sold as sex slaves all over the middle east, India, Europe and America. When I was in the south west part of Nepal a few days ago near Chitwan, there had been a spate of child abductions. These occurred when children were sent to collect water for their families from a local river due to the fact their pumps in the village were destroyed during the earthquake. Only these children have not returned and these families are understandably distrort. The government is doing what it can but corruption runs deep and the money is not getting to where it needs to go. Plus a new constitution has just come in to effect which is creating unrest. To make things worse there is a media block on current events.
When I crossed the Indian-Nepalese border I was looking forward to staying in Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, only to be told it was too dangerous due to rioting and protests. As I dove past the turn off to Lumbini the streets were dead, a sign that the ensuing curfew was being inforced and by the time I made it to Chitwan it was unconfirmed that 5 people had died including a police officer. Although violence is no excuse and hardly in the Nepalese peoples nature, these forever smiling people are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of support and the fact that the world has forgotten them.
There is hope though, NGO’s such as First Steps Himalayas, Habitat For Humanity and Journey Nepal are organising rebuild initiatives due to start at the end if September. They are looking for volunteer builders, engineers and anyone with the time and commitment to help out. For those of us who wish to help a donation to these organisation can be made via their websites. http://www.firststepshimalaya.org http://www.habitatnepal.org
Hopefully, once the constitution is implemented the people of Nepal can finally have some reprieve of what has been a harrowing six months and these kind souls can find their smiles again.
Photo credits: Jacqueline Saward jackieonthemap.wordpress.com