ORGANIZING THE CHAOS: OUR IMMEDIATE HELP AND SUPPORT FOR THE VICTIMS
After we were able to assure ourselves personally, that we – by some miracle and to our great relief – had no fatalities both within our local teams, their families as well as in our project areas in Mugu and Chitwan, we knew immediately that Back to Life had to act quickly to help those in need due to this catastrophe as soon as possible. Our project managers, Dikendra and Achut, tirelessly coordinated all aid directly from Kathmandu during the first days. And this under most difficult conditions: On the one hand the travel-possibilities in many parts of the country were extremely difficult and the affected areas were only reachable with the greatest effort. On the other hand, their own families had to live under provisional tents at that time so that they would not be killed by falling debris triggered by new earthquakes.
Though the focus of our work is normally in helping people to help themselves, it was now a priority to firstly provide the most important things to the earthquake victims to ensure their survival and to alleviate the acute need.
Our immediate measures:
- Acute care for the population affected by the earthquake by providing food, water, cookware, medicines and water purification tablets.
- Emergency shelters and protection for families, who lost their homes.
- Medical emergency assistance – support for the hospitals outside of Kathmandu and the organization and deployment of medical teams by helicopter to the mountain region Sindhupalchok.
- Prevention of communicable diseases and epidemics by basic water supply and education campaigns.
Emergency aid in Chitwan
Luckily our project area Mugu in western Nepal was spared from the big disaster – our project villages, birthing centres and schools remained intact. There even were no victims by falling rocks and landslides. That is why our support was firstly directed to our villages in Chitwan in southern Nepal: the distressed families whose houses were destroyed or damaged, received our emergency help immediately after the earthquake: in addition to cooking and eating devices, tarpaulins, blankets and mats, we also cared for basic food, lasting for approximately one month. That helped to cover the first serious time. More than 70 per cent of the Nepalese population live on agriculture. In the next step we distributed seed to the families to prevent a complete crop failure. Because many had also lost all their seed when they lost their houses. It was necessary to act quickly so that those affected would not become dependent on aid in long terms.
We have many years of experience with programs for income generation and in improving agricultural productivity. Therefore, we extended these directly to the earthquake victims and thus helped families to have a rapid sowing so that the monsoon could be used for food production. Seasonal vegetables grew within a few weeks and could also be partly sold on the market.