Yes, I was in Nepal during the earthquake & yes I am safe & whole in body as are many of my Nepali friends ...
Update on Nepal Earthquake situation - evening of Day 3:
Right now I am sitting on a plane — with a great deal of mixed emotions. Thankful to be safe, overwhelmed with what is still unfolding in Nepal and feelings of immense helplessness. In talking with my Nepali friends I realised it is much better that I leave and help coordinate support and logistics from outside Nepal. Aside from the simple reality that communications are greatly impacted & limited at present, there is also the reality that "taking care of foreigners" is the last thing the Nepalese need right now. Ever generous the Nepalese people are offering foreigners' food and water first when these items are fast become very, very scarce in the capital cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur.
There is a very great need for both immediate emergency support and longer-term rebuilding/infrastructure support which requires both a lot of funds and practical logistic support. I am very thankful that over the past 15 years of being involved in social welfare projects in Nepal I have developed an extensive network of inspiring and integral Nepalese friends. Many of these friends are already out in the field delivering emergency support in the most critically hit rural regions. Additionally they are already thinking and planning for the longer term.
During the Earthquake itself I was with our children at our Children Home in Sipadol village, in the hills above Bhaktapur. We happened to be all outside sitting on the carpets eating fruit that I had brought with me and looking through the new schoolbooks and playing when the quake struck. Thankfully it was easy for us all to run to the fields and be safe. It was quite terrifying to watch our own house building sway and shake and the ground beneath us bubble and roll. Within moments we could see red dust clouds about the village, hills and covering the city of Bhaktapur – signifying the immediate collapse of buildings. Thankfully in the Sipadol village where our Children Home is located there were no casualties or deaths. I have been able to contact all our various project locations now in the last few days in different regions in Nepal and established that they are safe. I am immensely thankful that no one close to me has suffered major injury or death, however many have lost their homes.
Some short notes for now, that I will follow up in more detail in the days/weeks:
1 Millions of people are directly affected by the Earthquake. The number of people I have personally met in these few days since the quake whose entire village of hundreds of homes has been entirely flattened is staggering. The death toll and injuries will rise much further in the next days & weeks as rescue/support reaches communities that are only accessible by walking. I know these regions well; several of our projects are located in the most devastated areas and so far in all these locations no government/international aid support has reached as of 3 days post quake.
2 In the urban locations most affected the aid/support is still far from what is required. I spent the past two days walking the streets of Kathmandu talking with local people and seeing with my own eyes the devastation. It is not only the crumbling of older buildings, and some new ones — the obvious impact — many locations do not yet have rescue teams attempting to remove bodies and locate survivors. Plus so many more buildings – I would estimate 30-40% are now critically cracked and structurally compromised and not safe to live in. Basic necessities such as water, food, shelter and fuel supplies are already after 3 days are critically compromised. The potential of secondary crisis from disease and lack of basic survival needs is very high. I have several young friends with young babies only two months old who are finding the conditions extremely challenging – presently 70-80% of the population in the cities are camped out of doors for safety.
3 The aftershocks (more than 200 so far) and uncertainty as to whether there will be further major quakes is very real. In the two days after the quake severe secondary quakes - not as strong as the initial 7.9 – yet powerful enough to continue the destruction and deepen fears have contributed to the continued crisis.
4 The fact that so many buildings - including many primary care building such as hospitals and government services, banks, food supplies – have been damaged and structurally compromised directly impacts both the immediate support and longer term recovery in the cities.
5 Several of our Hands-with-Hands project buildings (two of our Children Homes and several school buildings) have been badly affected. All our children and staff and friends are safe and uninjured for which we are immensely thankful and grateful for.
6 There is huge immediate need for temporary shelter and emergency supplies of food and water as well as medical support in the rural communities. Plus the long-term needs of rebuilding.
What we are already doing:
1 My Nepali friends and their local volunteers are already in critically affected areas with tents, medical teams, medicines and basic food/water supplies – I have assured them that I/we will back them up with financial support so they can carry on and do what is needed without thinking about the costs.
2 Some of my Nepali friends are directly supporting and helping with the children affected in the primary impact areas in both medical assistance and primary care – shelter/food & water, and love.
3 We are already making plans for the next stage of support after the immediate survival needs are met - the development and education is eco friendly earthquake resistant building. We already had this project underway in a small way and need help to upscale and outreach very fast to prevent this devastation reoccurring. We are working directly with Nrirpal Adhikary who is Nepalese and has developed bamboo and natural earth building in modern techniques. I will share more on this in the next days/weeks; right now our focus is on emergency supplies.
I do not have any big organisation behind me/us, up until now I have relied upon individual friends and family for donations here as there as we needed – but this is way bigger than anything I could imagine and I implore you to support me/us. 100% of funds will be landing on the ground of that I can guarantee. For 15 years myself and several of my Nepal friends have been contributing our time and personal resources as volunteers and we continue to do so in this situation and have engaged already a number of other friends to do the same at this time. Your help is really appreciated and I am also so thankful for the overwhelming number of messages already sent by many of you – please know I will respond as soon as practically I can.
I am currently relying on friends who have set up additional places for receiving donations in addition to the primary places of our HwH German Bank account and a PayPal account – I hope within the next week to have more options and also a better source/flow of information about what is unfolding in Nepal, both our impact and the reality of the situation on the ground. Currently I cannot answer each message directly as there are simply too many and as yet I have not established for myself clear communication lines. I am heading now to Australia where I will coordinate funds and logistics and will send another update when I can. I will update our www.handswithhands.com website as soon as possible, for now best to get information from me via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kira.kay.9
With heartfelt gratitude & appreciation, Kira