Nepal's Banksy was here!

Nepal's Banksy was here!
Strong message, Simple words

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Recall to Kathmandu - earthquake recovery planning.

The wheat harvest is underway in Baglung district. Rice will be sown next.

It’s been 24 days since the first earthquake here in Nepal, but now pulling together reflections of the intervening period, it feels more like three months.
The support work I had been doing with the International Citizen Service volunteers in Baglung, immediately prior to that fateful day, should have merited its own blog post. However. the turmoil of  earthquake escape, being reunited with Jude here in Lamjung, and post crisis work have not made this possible. To reduce the burden for their host communities in the post- earthquake period, these young UK ICS volunteers were repatriated and their Nepali counterparts have also returned home. Looking through a few images of these workshops, I was moved by memories of how involved the youngsters were, both as interpreters and organisers. One  volunteer, Arohan, asked me for workshop notes so that he could perform the training himself to other interested farmers. The experience had clearly benefited both of us.

Simple teaching aids, to explain the basics of  ruminant digestion, are translated by Lalita in Mahalladanda. 

Vikram, in the blue jacket, helps with explanation of  new tools. He arranged for this second workshop in Panchase where the Dalit community members did not attend our first training.

Arohan really engaged with the workshop in his community. With the notes I supplied he hoped to repeat the messages to other farmers. The earthquake prevented this plan.

The images bring back other feelings. Little did we all know that within just a couple of hours of that final gathering in the hillside dalit (low caste) community, where everyone was so eager to be involved and talk of their plans for the coming season, that this natural disaster would strike, wrecking the lives of so many rural farmers. Lives lost, people injured, houses damaged and destroyed, livelihoods hampered, markets wrecked are just some of the effects this horrific quake and its following tremors reeked on this already fragile nation.

Dalit families gather as we prepare for the last workshop. These low caste families demonstrated their open mindedness and willingness to change, much more so than their higher caste counterparts who struggled to accept any new ideas.

A young girl prepares us rotis after we had delivered the training.

Jude and I found that our first offers of help to the local community here in Lamjung were warmly received and we hurriedly were able to do a damage assessment report in the worst affected areas of the district. Within a few days the finished report was submitted and had been well received by the Lamjung Disaster Response Coordination Committee and a DFID investigating group. But that was some days ago and further offers of assistance by VSO to the LDRCC have fallen on deaf ears. So it is with some concern that I am returning to Kathmandu. Concern not for what I might find in the city and the surrounding area which has been so badly damaged, but for this district I leave behind.
VSO are pulling me back to the country office to help plan for the recovery phase and also work with a DFID funded partner on a more formal basis. This planning will aim to  facilitate recovery using the skills of those volunteers and staff members already in country and other emergency volunteers would have begun to arrive.

Philip Goodwin, the VSO CEO, recently sent a message to the entire VSO Nepal team. In it he urged us to find imaginative solutions to the problems that any recovery plan will face. The experience and knowledge I have gained over the last ten months, especially the most recent days, will have to meld with the skills I brought with me following forty years of farming and business in the UK. My hope is that this union of skill, experience and creativity will be enough to make me an effective cog in the mechanism that is VSO Nepal. We will find out in the coming weeks.

Some of the people we have been lucky enough to meet in recent weeks. How will this natural disaster affect their lives?
A woman wood gather takes a break.

Sharing a meal after a long walk

A fellow Kathmandu resident

Earlier this year this woman stands on the steps of the now non-existent temple in Patan Durbar Square.  

Three men from a local rural community. Destroyed and damaged houses will impact
heavily on the aging population. On our post earthquake 

A young girl carrying rice to her isolated home.

Mother and daughter from a Gurung family