Nepal: Teams focus on remote areas
Fr Jose Jomon SJ writes from Nepal:
At the time of writing this, the number of people who died in the quake has reached 6, 200. The number of injured has crossed more than 13,500.
The first phase of the relief work still continues. The Jesuits with the help of its institutions reached out to many more remote villages . The alumni and staff of St Xavier’s School Godavari under the leadership of Fr Jiju, the Principal, went to the upper part of Lamatar VDC, Kavre district and distributed some relief materials (including tripals [canopies], beaten rice, sleeping mats and noodles) to the most needy villagers. They also went to Kaleshwor VDC & Gotikhel VDC in Lalitpur district, 45 kilometers south of Kathmandu and distributed relief materials to the villagers there. About 500 houses benefitted.
Fr Amrit Rai, the Principal, and Fr Mathew Assarikudy, along with the staff of St Xavier’s School Jawalakhel went to remote villages in Nuakot district north west of Kathmandu. They distributed tents to 65 dalit families. They also visited a village called Kaalikhetan where they distributed tents to 30 houses. In another village called Besi Katteri, out of 68 houses only five houses were standing. They distributed tents to the affected villagers there too. All these people belonged to low caste (outside the caste) and were not given any relief so far from anyone. These places are about 100 kilometers away from Kathmandu.
Fr Dilip along with his Social Service Center staff visited a place called Ghoushal in Lalitpur district and distributed tents there. The people there were very much frustrated and angry at the lack of response from government or non-governmental organisations.
We have also dispatched dry food items to Okhaldunga, another place 100 kilometers away from Kathmandu. No relief materials had reached there due to the inaccessibility of the place. We had men carry the materials to their villages from the nearest bus stop.
Another place we reached out to was Baniatar which is situated just on the outskirts of Kathmandu city. We have a small Christian community there. Most of the houses were either partially or fully destroyed. We distributed tents and dry food there.
In the mean time, our student volunteers are working throughout the day giving sanitation awareness to people who live in tents in and outside Kathmandu. Wherever they go, they distribute water purifying capsules, soaps and sanitary materials. Many student volunteers are also involved in cleaning the camp area with disinfectants. Clearing the piles of rubbles from collapsed buildings is another work our students are engaged in.
In all the villages that we visited, few houses are inhabitable. People are living out in the open. The most basic need in these places are tents which we are running short of. No tents (tarpaulin sheets) are available in the country and bringing them from India takes time. Unseasonal rains have made the living conditions miserable. In many places, villagers are running out of stored food items and drinking water.