When on April 25 the earth trembled and quaked in Nepal, people of the small mountain village Sita Nagarkoti ran out of their houses in panic. Miraculously none of the villagers were killed. "We were so afraid and did not dare going back into the ruins," tells me an elderly women of the village. Weeks later numerous aftershocks still scared the people, who already had lost almost everything due to the earthquake.
With a magnitude of 7.8 to 8.1 the earthquake was devastating. More than 8,800 people were killed and more than 21,000 were injured. On the first day after the disaster, the Amity Foundation started a major relief project to help the people of Nepal. This was possible because of the generous support of many donors from China. The Hong Kong government also contributed to Amity's emergency relief project.
When the horrible news and pictures of the devastating earthquake went viral in the media, the Amity Foundation immediately linked with ACT Alliance. This is a global alliance of Christian churches and relief organizations supporting one another in the case of disasters. Over the next days Amity coordinated with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Nepal. LWF is the local ACT member organization in Nepal, which already works there for decades and is familiar with the local environment.
"In the first month, it was all about providing emergency relief supplies to the earthquake victims and avoid further casualties," says the director of LWF Nepal, Dr. Prabin. These essentials were, drinking water, food, blankets and hygiene items and were distributed to those affected.
The months after, the upcoming rainy season and the current winter had to be considered and responded to. The homes of nearly half of a million people were destroyed. Amity and LWF therefore distributed in a second phase of the aid project shelter material. These included corrugated iron, tools, solar lamps and containers in which people can keep drinking water. "The large container reduces the effort to get water for drinking or to wash," says Dhankumari a woman, who received the supplies a week before. Before it took her one hour to go to the next well for fetching water for the family.
The solar lamps provide light for the people in their temporary shelters. "Now I don't have to longer use the smelly and sooty oil lamp," tells me an old Dalit woman, who belongs with an underprivileged caste in Nepal. I am especially surprised by the humility of many people when I ask them about their plight and how we can help. "You've already done so much, I will get along," I often hear.
On our way to the mountain regions destroyed by landslides roads complicate the transport of relief supplies. When we reach the village of Sita Nagarkoti the entire force of the earthquake becomes visible. The houses of 27 young families, who are living solely from farming and some animals, are all destroyed.
A villager, who is cleaning up the debris of his house, tells me that he has not yet paid off the loan for building the house five years before. When i ask him when he thinks that he is able o build a new house he says to me: "This is just a distant dream for me." However, he does not look discouraged and thanks me for the support he has received. "You are like gods to us, " he says to me. Embarrassed by this expression of gratitude I hasten to deny this. Instead I express my admiration to all the villagers how they defy their blow of fate.
Clean-up work in the village Sita Nagarkoti
During the visit to Nepal I realize once again how privileged and how lucky I am to be born in a rich country. The gratitude and courage that I have experienced by the people, I would like to forward to those who supported Amity's relief project and donated for the people in Nepal. The support during this difficult time gives the people hope for the future. The Amity Foundation will continue to engage in rehabilitation and reconstruction work in Nepal.