Post Nepal Earthquake: A trip to Patigaun Village, Sindhupalchowk

April 30, 2015

30th April! Day 6 of the devastating earthquakes that hit Nepal! A 7.9 Richter scale nightmare hit my country on April 25th and with its wide spread effects, my country is still shaking! It has already destroyed 5 of our UNESCO World Heritage sites, caused trillions of damage to the meager infrastructure of the least developed country and claimed more than 5000 lives. This doomed number keeps rising with hundreds every hour.

Our country is mourning, traumatized and yet slowly picking up, gathering strengths. The youths are organizing, gathering themselves and their country with them, fighting their own government imposed red tapes and trying to act immediately, urgently and reach out to the needy ones. With the same pursuit, we visited Sankhu today. Sankhu, a municipality few hours drive from Kathmandu core city, a very old city in itself and center of Hindu religious tale, Swasthani, is highly damaged.   Approximately 166 of these were destroyed, 97 severely damaged, and 37 moderately damaged, according to sources. We ,a group of around 15 volunteers, reached there at around 1 PM, after a busy morning volunteering to bottle and package Piyush (chlorinated water disinfectant) but when we reached there, it was filled with Chinese aid, Mercy Malaysia volunteers and other supports. Because of its proximity with core Kathmandu city and motorable roads, there was even a traffic jam because of aid carrying vehicles. So the locals of Sankhu themselves suggested us to go ahead. As we moved further,  we crossed Jarsingpauwa (Lapsiphedi VDC) and reached Bhotechaur , of Sindhupalchowk district.

On  April 26th, that is the second day of the earthquake, the biggest aftershock of this earthquake series hit Nepal and had its epicenter in this very district. Sindhupalchowk has already lost 1587 lives and this number will also rise with each passing hour. A remote district next to Kathmandu, the district had to suffer the highest number of deaths and the second highest per capita death rate at more than five deaths per thousand residents.

The directions were confusing as we hadn’t done our research earlier. But when we reached Bhotechaur, there were Patigaun1already big trucks and vehicles carrying and distributing food and medicines to the locals there. More like looting and hoarding by the locals out of desperation. The relief materials still had no tents, only some packaged foods and medicines. Our volunteer group had no affiliation as such to any organization and we had collected a few bucks on our own and bought little relief. We were on bikes and had another volunteer’s car where we had kept few noodles and Chiura (beaten rice). Sensing that Bhotechaur has received aids and will continue to do so, because of the motorable roads, we decided to go ahead. The roads were mostly dirt roads, and we had to park car, when we couldnot take it further in the narrow trail. After around an hour from Bhotechaur, we reached Patigaun VDC of Sindhupalchowk. Not a single house was untouched by the earthquake there. Houses were toppled down, looked more like rubble. The standing ones also bore the cracks and scars of the nightmare. 

We stopped first at a Brahmin village. People there were wearing mourning white clothes.  where we distributed few food items, water disinfectants and medicines that we had with us.  According to the local, they have finished allPatigaun2 their food reserves and are left between mourning for their dead relatives and waiting for support. The need is desperate there. A middle aged woman , walked up to me stealthily and whispered in my ear, if we had any medicines for the pregnant woman. When I inquired further, she told me that her daughter-in-law was pregnant and had been bleeding for some time now. Aghast, I referred her to the doctor, we had in our group. We had no medicine for that with us. The doctor also reluctantly asked the lady to take her daughter-in-law to nearby health-post immediately. Another woman was telling that, we were the first ones to reach there. “We waited for days for someone to show up, when no-one came, we had dig up our rubble-houses to get whatever food we could , that had been buried during the earthquake. please share about us to others as well”, she said to me. Another gentleman was telling that his mother had been sick since the day earthquake hit us, and her left part was not moving due to shock. The doctor suggested him to take her to health post immediately, as his mother could be suffering from paralysis due to high blood pressure.

We then moved to a Dalit village, which was further downhill. Dalits are the communities that have bePatgaun3en defined as Untouchables by the society, and are poor and marginalized communities. We distributed our materials there, but surprisingly there were very less people present there. When we asked about other members, we were told that others had gone to Bhotechaur, to get the aids but are sure to return empty handed as the locals of Bhotechaur will not allow them to gather, while they are still empty handed.  “All the relief aids and supports have only reached till Bhotechaur and the residents of Patigaun VDC receive none, said the little girl, who was waiting upon her devastated house.

We then moved further, around 10 mins more and reached an ethnic Tamang community. This was the most illiterate community, after the Dalits community, we were informed. Earthquake scars were everywhere. When they saw us, they started crowding around us. Despite our numerous requests to be patient and stay in lines, their desperation was taking the better of them. It was a chaos. After shouting and arguing and requesting numerous times, we finally distributed all we had in that community. Still it was not enough. We hadn’t taken much with us, and it was all finished by then.

Meanwhile, in Kathmandu some idiotic four-some had started rumors of another big earthquake, and even though Patigaun4earthquake cannot be predicted, people were believing it and preparing to evacuate their houses yet again. So, all our phones were ringing and we were being asked to rush back to Kathmandu immediately. So, after around 2 hours bike ride, we reached our homes at around 8 in the evening.

The need of TENTS, FOOD and MEDICINE is huge and desperate in Sindhupalchowk district and its villages, All the houses have been broken down, and they are taking shelter in makeshift tents of straws and broken down tin roofs, which leak when it rains. There is no food and no toilets either. The village still hasn’t faced any water-borne disease yet, but with the terrible situation of sanitation, it might start soon and will claim more lives than the earthquake or its aftershocks did. There are children there, from infants to teenagers; who have been hungry for a long time. The look of their faces will make you question all the laws and destinies of nature. One needs to ACT and act FAST at these difficult times. So, I humbly request all to help support these locals who are bearing the brunt of the massive Nepal earthquake but have not been prioritized by the government and other international/ national relief workers.  Yes, we have challenges; our government’s red tapes, the geography of theses areas and the lack of coordination between all to name a few, but we need to overcome all these and reach to more communities immediately.

Patigaun5

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  1. In case people require information about the place, please contact Sanjaya Sir, Local Police Constable: 9841809024

  1. May 3rd, 2015
    Trackback from : Another One | story de-pot

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