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03 July 2015

Samaritan’s Purse finds hope in the rubble of Nepal earthquake

Samaritan’s Purse finds hope in the rubble of Nepal earthquake

by Peter Wooding

"The aftershocks keep coming and the monsoons will be here soon, but we should not lose heart. We need to fight with it," 14-year-old Nikesh boldly proclaimed to me during my recent visit to Nepal to see first-hand how Christian charity Samaritan's Purse is responding to this disaster.

Standing in front of piles of rubble where his classroom once stood, this brave pupil from the Nuwakot district of Nepal north of Kathmandu, told me what it was like when the devastating earthquake hit his small community back in April: "When the earthquake came we were all very shocked and frightened. I was very sad to see all the destruction at my school and all the houses in my area have been destroyed."

Sadly four pupils from his school were killed in the earthquake;however, Nikesh explains that because it took place on a Saturday no one was at school that day.

"I was very frightened because if we'd been at school that day many more could have died."

Despite seeing classrooms completely destroyed, the pupils were very excited to return to school, thanks to the help of Samaritan's Purse who provided new toilets and clean drinking water.

The bravery and thankfulness of Nikesh epitomised the strong resolve of the Nepali people and their determination to see their nation restored.

Soon after saying goodbye to Nikesh, we encountered this same incredible resilience and resourcefulness when we travelled just a few hundred yards to a nearby community and met Arjun, the father of one family. He showed us how his home had been completely destroyed, but they'd now moved into their chicken coup.

Arjun said they had no choice but to sell their chickens, which was their only livelihood, so they could move into their unlikely new home. Slowly they managed to go through the rubble of the site that was once their home and find as many of their belongings as possible, pack them into plastics bags and move into the chicken coup where they now live.

Samaritan's Purse is providing vital help to many families like Arjun's in this devastated community, particularly with respect to hygiene and water sanitation.

Sujana Lama from Kathmandu is team leader for the Samaritan's Purse hygiene promotion programme in Bidur in the Nuwakot District. She told me why this work is so important: "This is crucial because since there are a lot of people not having toilets and defecating outside, the hygiene risks are far greater and the monsoon season will increase the threat of water-borne diseases."

We travelled on a number of treacherous mountainous roads to get to these communities, with evidence of landslides everywhere. And as the monsoon season begins, there is an even greater urgency for Samaritan's Purse to get as much aid as possible to these remote areas before the roads become impassable. When we returned to Kathmandu and visited the Samaritan's Purse warehouse, we found local volunteers working day and night loading vital supplies to as many trucks as possible before time runs out.

To date, Samaritan's Purse has already distributed over 30,000 hygiene kits that include water purification tablets, jerry cans, soap, and other items. In addition, our team has reached 50,000 households with a variety of essential supplies including:

100 metric tonnes of food
61,000 shelter tarps
120,000 blankets
42,000 kitchen kits

Travelling with me through Nepal was Samaritan's Purse UK executive director Simon Barrington, who shared his reflections on what he witnessed: "Everyone we've met has been impacted by the earthquake. Some we've met have lost their homes, or their schools have been destroyed;they have lost a family member and many have lost their livelihoods.

"However I've been impacted by the sense of determination and persistence to get on and start rebuilding their lives.

"The logistical challenge of reaching so many people is huge and seeing it first-hand, you realise some of the barriers and obstacles our teams must overcome to help people. I've been inspired by our international staff as well as Nepali staff who just want to help at this time of desperation for their country."

To find out more about how Samaritan's Purse is responding in Nepal go to: www.samaritans-purse.org.uk

Image: Peter interviewing Nikesh outside his classroom