Nepal becomes a huge Tent Camp

If you do not know how we lived the second earthquake, read the previous post: “New earthquake and everyone in the street“.

It’s been two days after the second earthquake, but still noticeable consequences, most shops are still closed in Kathmandu and I still have not managed to return to Bhimphedi. The jeeps that would come from Hetauda to pick people do not come, drivers are afraid to come to Kathmandu. But here in Kathmandu is impossible to make any work these days… so I feel impatient to go back to Bhimphedi to do something useful .

At 9am finally I receive a call to tell me that if I reach on time I can have two tickets at 10:30, one for me and one for Shree. Wow, now time to run. I’m at Geeta’s home, the wonderful accountant of Amics del Nepal in Kathmandu. She and her brother were telling me all the adventures they were living these days in the expeditions to Sindupalchowk and Dholakba to give some support to the victims of the earthquake. As quickly as I can, I go to pick up my things and take Shree and we go by taxi to Balkhu. Impossible to reach by public transportation on time.

Surprisingly the taxi driver asks for a resonable price from the beginning so we don’t have to make bargaining ritual that precedes any transaction. On the way we see some destroied houses, Ratna Park is full of tents… finally the matter comes. The driver tells us he is from Dholakha, his parents OK, though their house collapsed. But his uncle died in the earthquake…

Three hours journey by jeep, on paths that go up and down one hill after another. From the first hill we see Kathmandu city I look carefully trying to see what caused the earthquake devastation. I see no obvious effects from the buildings from so far, but there is something different from the other times I had done this way: everywhere there are orange spots, tents everywhere.

During the three hours journey the same vision. Next to each house, there is a tent, no matter if the house is completely demolished or no apparent damage from outside. Everyone is living in tents that stand on the side of the house. Who has no house has to sleep outside. Who has cracked home sleeps outside for fear that the house is not safe. Who owns the house without damage, is afraid that in the night comes a stronger earthquake and this time the house doesn’t hold.

We reach on the last hill and we can see the hills and valleys of the Bhimphedi village. Like any other place, there is a tend next to each house, but to me they look different because Amics del Nepal was the one who provided 264 tents of them. Seeing all these tents makes me think of the adventures we lived in the two journeys to India to buy the tents and the distribution and monitoring.

We already explained here how we got the first 123 tents in “The Tent Adventure” and how they were distributed and tracked in “The tents are finally at home.” But not yet what happened on the second part of the project that started on May 8th going towards Hetauda to withdraw the money from the bank and take the jeep we had previously booked to go to India at 10:30 morning to buy a new shipment of tents. I can not cross the border, but the Nepalese do not need a visa to cross it, so I leave jeep and I do shopping for shelter and to pay the electricity bill while waiting for the rest of the team to come back.

Ram Naam Lama (Member of the community of Bhimphedi and the medical center that supports many projects)

Ram Bahadur and I were in Hetauda in the agreed place in the agreed time waiting for the Tata Sumo (jeep). It was10.30 and the tata sumo should be here but it’s not. I call to find out if it will take long time. But he tells us he can not come, he has to go to Kathmandu! why he didn’t inform us? Here begins our unlucky day…

We ask all the offices of transportation but none has any available jeep. Finally, through a relative of mine, we get one and we go to Raxaul (India near the Nepalese border).

Once we got there we began to wonder, store after store, but no one has medium tents, or so they say… when we start to lose hope, we see on a wall of a store a picture of a religious group in a volunteer campaign. What a coincidence, it is the religious group that my family belongs! We began to chat with the shopkeeper and finally asks: “What do you need?” “150 tents” we say. “No problem, it’s done” he says. It seems that after all today may not be an unlucky day!

We load the jeep with 141 tents and head towards the border. They stop us… The other time was very simple with the military car…

The official of the Indian border makes us go into his office and they start asking details of our mission. We explain where we came from and for what reasons, but they are not convinced because we don’t have any documentation to prove it. They ask us to go back again and give back all the tents to the shop where we bought them. It’s already 2 o’clock and it doesn’t look we will succeed… What should we do? Where should we go? To whom should we speak? We feel frustrated and without much hope… but we ask the officer to let us cross the border again. He says that if we confess that we bring the tents to do business, then with a small amount of money we may be allowed to cross… But we will not lie… the tents are not for selling, they are to be distributed to the Bhimphedi victims of the earthquake…

Finally the officer advised us that we should bring a letter from the Indian embassy… but we do not believe this is possible… But when we leave the office a Agent (a person who is on the border, but worker is not public) approaches us and he advices us to visit Jee Mishra’s office. We do it. There we pay 1,000 Nepalese rupees (about 9 euros) and Mishra Jee help us talking with the border officials. This time without any problem they let us cross. Mishra Jee Thanks!

We should not have given this money, because It was something wrong… but what to do? there was no other way to resolve the situation… However we completed the mission successfully, and the next day we distribute tents to the 9 representatives of the 9 wards.

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Bishwa carring one of the tents for Ward number 9.
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Bishwa looks a little bit tired. Kul and Arati seem to be stronger.

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Amics del Nepal Barcelona Team thank you for your support. Especially thanks to Dani and Laura!