Halchok Village update: Wednesday, June 3, 15
(click on thumbnails to see larger images)
I arrived in Kathmandu on Friday May 29th from Lhasa on a Sichuan Airlines flight. Our flight had a few intrepid Chinese tourists and a few other westerners. On arrival, the airport was almost empty. Driving in from the airport, at first glance Kathmandu seemed remarkably "normal". The large concrete houses that have come to dominate the Kathmandu skyline seemed all as they were before. Further closer inspection reveals that many of them have suffered damage, in many cases severe enough to earn a "red tag" which means that the engineers inspecting the property have deemed the structure so compromised that it should be pulled down.
The next day I went on my first visit to Halchok. As always it was lovely to see our friends there, and above all because all we are close to were spared, though each had a harrowing tale to tell of the moments when the first, and then the second earthquake struck. Sukri's house was standing and while it had suffered considerable damage to the walls, seems to be repairable, although some of the repairs, involving the replacement of entire sections of wall, will be tricky and difficult. Almost all the other houses in the village were either entirely destroyed or uninhabitable.
Individual houses destroyed and damaged: the camp of the homeless
Thanks to the first relief effort carried out by our JobsNepal.com colleagues, the villagers have enough to eat, and we will continue to supply food as needed. The markets in Kathmandu are full and food and medical supplies are readily available.
The challenge now is shelter. Almost every villager is homeless, either because their small clay and stone or clay and unfired brick home has entirely collapsed, or because their slightly more modern house is so compromised that it is uninhabitable.
Our efforts are now focused on temporary shelter using materials some of which can be reused in more permanent housing to be rebuilt later.
In another visit yesterday, Manika of JobsNepal.com and Sukri and I did a survey of the houses destroyed in the main village, we counted at least 64, and that does not include a few on the outskirts.
Tomorrow we will scour the markets for good quality corrugated tin roofing (Nepali, "jyestha
"). The villagers, several of who are skilled or semi-skilled construction workers, can combine the jyestha
with bamboo poles used in scaffolding to create shelters that will last through the monsoon, while the jyestha
itself can continue to serve as the roof of their reconstructed houses, which we hope will be built in a more earthquake resistant design. Work continues apace in Nepal on these design elements.
Since there are about one hundred village families that will need these materials, we expect this stage to cost around $20,000. We hope to have enough.
More in the next post.
Ian and the Asianart.com team in Halchok village,
Lois and Vasundhara and Vajra in Santa Fe