Nepal Earthquake

Update from Nepal: Providing Relief and Recovery

International Ministries partner United Mission to Nepal reports on relief efforts in Nepal, and what help is urgently needed.

Update from Nepal: Providing Relief and Recovery
Home is now a tarpaulin for thousands of families in rural Nepal.

Update: United Mission to Nepal has been granted $100,000 from United Methodist Women to support its disaster relief efforts in Nepal. The funds came from the Clella Stufft fund, a permanent endowment created through Planned Giving.

We all have seen photographs of the devastation in Kathmandu, Nepal, following the earthquake of April 25, as well as a second earthquake a week later. Within moments ancient temples and monuments were reduced to piles of crumbling brick and broken beams. But it wasn't just temples and monuments that were destroyed — ordinary families, for whom life is already a struggle, were seen picking through the rubble of their homes to salvage what little they can, their homes completely obliterated.

Much of the media's attention was on the city, but the real tragedy is happening in the rural areas. Whole villages, strung out along the ridges of the Himalayas, have fallen into ruin or have completely disappeared in the landslides that followed the quake. Families have lost their few kitchen implements, their two or three changes of clothes, their blankets and bedding, their treasured radio. Children's school books are gone, and so are their schools. Worse still, food stocks have been buried under the rubble, farming tools broken and livestock killed. Seed grain has been lost as well, and unless it is replaced, this season's crop won't be planted and there will be no food for the winter.

United Methodist Women’s International Ministries partner, United Mission to Nepal (UMN), knows many of these villages well. We have been working here for over 60 years, prioritizing remote, poor communities. Since the earthquake, we've been working hard to provide relief supplies to some of the most badly hit areas in Dhading district. Some of these communities, right up near the Tibetan border, are three to five days' walk from the end of the nearest road. To make matters worse, many walking trails have been made impassable by landslides and broken suspension bridges. Reaching these remote areas has been a real challenge. Small helicopters supplied by Missionary Aviation Fellowship and then larger choppers from the World Food Programme have ferried in tons of food and non-food items to over 1,500 households.

Communities in the south of the district are easier to reach, but also more densely populated. I visited Jeewanpur recently to see the distribution of relief supplies to about 2,000 households. Twenty-four tipper trucks, provided free of charge by a local company, ferried the goods to the four distribution points. Over 100,000 pounds of rice were distributed, along with other foods, blankets, tarpaulins and hygiene kits, all on one day. It was a magnificent effort!

Women Particularly Vulnerable

Women are particularly vulnerable in disaster contexts. Imagine being pregnant or even just menstruating, your house collapsed, crowded under a tarpaulin with several other families, with no access to a private bathroom or even soap and water. In many places, health posts and birthing centers have been severely damaged, medicines and equipment lost, and staff gone to look after their own families. UMN has been distributing so-called Dignity Kits to pregnant women and women with disabilities. These contain, among other things, some basic clothing and underwear, soap, comb and nail cutters, a warm shawl and cloths that can be used as sanitary napkins. Safe Delivery Kits are also available, with plastic and cotton sheeting, soap and surgical gloves, and a clean blade and dressings.

Keeping children safe and getting them back to school is a big priority. UMN has been working in several areas in Dhading, training teachers and providing child-friendly learning spaces and equipment, for more than five years. Yet right now about three-quarters of the schools are destroyed or unsafe. Temporary Learning Centers are being provided for affected areas, and UMN will be involved in equipping and staffing some of these in Dhading. The routine of school helps children recover from trauma and fear, as well as keeping them up-to-date with their studies.

Providing emergency relief is important; now the challenge is to plan for the longer term. The pressure is high to provide temporary housing before the rains of the monsoon lash the mountainsides. Farmers need to get seed into the ground for the next crop. Schools and health posts need to be rebuilt, and communities themselves need to be part of the decision-making that will affect their future. With the support of organizations across the world, like United Methodist Women, UMN will continue to be a witness to the love and compassion of Christ as we serve communities in great need. Thank you for standing with us, for praying for us as we take on these challenges.

Through our International Ministries office, United Methodist Women links to the United Mission to Nepal, supporting 11 districts to address the rural poverty of women and children through non-formal workshops, literacy training, economic development, health education, hygiene, food production and child protection. The efforts also include anti-early marriage and anti-trafficking trainings.

Lyn Jackson is the communications director of United Mission to Nepal in Kathmandu.

Posted or updated: 5/20/2015 11:00:00 PM

International Ministries
United Mission to Nepal has been granted $100,000 from United Methodist Women to support its disaster relief efforts in Nepal.
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