On the Ground: Delivering Relief in Manikhel, Nepal

Today's visit to a very tight-knit community that lost a daughter was heart-wrenching. We brought our condolences, visited with each family to understand how they are surviving, and delivered critically needed aid.

May 5, 2015

Sam Amiel visits with the uncle of an earthquake victim in Manikhel, Nepal.

Today’s visit to a very tight-knit community that lost a daughter was heart-wrenching. We brought our condolences, visited with each family to understand how they are surviving, and delivered critically needed aid.

The village of Manikhel, located south of Kathmandu, lost one person, a 16-year-old girl named Muna, crushed under a bed as she sought cover.

Manoj Pahari, a fellow with our partner organization Sarvodaya – Teach for Nepal (TFN) who was embedded in Manikhel for two years, told me he remembered Muna’s 16th birthday party, celebrated in her home — now a ruined, flattened pile of rubble.

The girl’s uncle told me he had high hopes for Muna, the eldest of three daughters.

‘She showed great promise, and I always spoke to her about doing well in school,’ he said. ‘My heart hurts.’

The village school in Manikhel, 8,500 feet above sea level, served hundreds of children walking two hours each way from across the hilly region. The school is closed for a month, serving as a relief distribution point for 1,500 people across ten villages. When I visited, 15 families were living in the school, with many others forming makeshift structures from tarp, tin, stones, and wood salvaged from the piles of the rubble.

I saw wide-scale destruction in some of the hardest-hit districts in Nepal. It is extremely encouraging to know our partners at Tevel B’Tzedek and TFN take the same community-based approach as all of us at JDC when providing relief and assistance. We all fully believe in long-term sustainable impact for those most in need.

We visited six villages where more than 90 percent of homes were affected, destroyed and uninhabitable.

The need for shelter is great, especially given the monsoon season set to strike in five to six weeks.

Because of the difficult terrain and landslides caused by the earthquake, it is taking even longer to deliver critical aid to the periphery than what JDC has experienced in some previous disasters.

We are hard at work with our partners to identify the best solutions that will solve short- and long-term housing needs while still providing critical first-line aid, including food and medicine.

Sam Amiel is a senior member of JDC’s disaster response team.

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