People, resilience, life carrying on…

It’s been an extremely busy month since my last post but unfortunately I do not have time to explain in detail so with just a few words I’ll have to let the pictures do the talking to keep you up to date. Fortunately being short on time is due both to being extremely busy in my work especially trying to get many things completed and started before the big Hindu festival of Dashain starts next week but also I have finally managed to get myself off trekking (starting out from home 5:30am tomorrow having got back from Sindhupalchok just a few hours ago, wish me luck, many photos to follow I hope…)

#1 One morning I joined a trip out of Chautara to evacuate an ill team mate from a remote distribution point. This involved driving up one of the five main roads of the district up to a settlement called Phusre. From the end of the accessible road section the Save the Children team together with the Logistics Cluster were arranging teams of up to 300 locals as porters daily to carry 30kg each of corrugated iron sheets, to improve temporary housing for people who lost their homes in remote villages. The porters would walk carrying the cumbersome metal sheets on their backs, up steep slopes for up to 6 hours at a time. Phenomenal. The drive was interesting enough with the landslides and monsoon induced mud, and this is the ‘easily accessible’ section;

01 road to phusre 2

#2 And as ever, you just can’t beat the views;

02 road to phusre

#3 In fact, the view just stepping out of a Health Cluster meeting at the District Health Office in Chautara can make you take a moment for pure admiration;

03 IMG_20150922_183819

#4 And I must say, the 25 minute walk across Chautara back to my camp is hardly the worst commute I’ve ever had;

04 IMG_20150922_183513

#5 Life, 5+ months after the earthquake, is continuing to return to ‘normal’. Here the army out training, running past the office of a morning and more buildings being brought down. Spot the fellow many floors up with a pneumatic drill most probably working in his plastic slip on shoes (I never cease to be amazed what Nepalis can do in bathroom slippers = climb mountains, play sports (well) and even demolish entire buildings it seems);

05 chautara

#6 Slowly, through weeks of painstaking manual labour, everything is reduced to rubble…;

06 demolition 2

#7 … ready to build anew. Here are the foundations for the new District Development Committee offices where my counterparts (currently housed in the blue pre-fabricated offices seen in a previous post) will eventually move in. Next door to the current office we’ve moved the former UN-OCHA coordination tent to continue to be a centre for coordination and therefore my new office;

07 offices

#8 As OCHA prepared to cease operations in the district we made the most of their expertise; running final inter-cluster meetings, consolidating transition plans for the district as we leave the emergency phase and move focus over to recovery and reconstruction, as well as running trainings for Government and non-Government staff about best practice and how we can all continue to improve coordination moving forward;

08 OCHA

#9 Formal goodbyes from the Government team & a ceremonial lowering of the UN-OCHA flag;

09 OCHA

#10 Whilst all this hard work has continued in Sindhupalchok and throughout the earthquake affected areas, life has been made even harder for everyone as wider Nepal has been battling through a new constitution and dealing with protests from both within and abroad. As India informally closed it’s borders with Nepal there has been an acute shortage of petrol, diesel and cooking gas heavily impacting life throughout Nepal. Here’s a quick photo of one petrol queue, from a few week’s ago, things are more extreme now. Read this article from the NY Times for more of an insight “Snaking Lines Grow as Nepal Confronts Fuel Shortage”. Yet somehow the Nepali people stay calm and restrained throughout – they continue to amaze me. Oh, and it does make for a clear, smog free valley;

10 valley

#11 Life carries on regardless; on International Children’s Day a small memorial was organised in Chautara to remember the 949 children from the district who lost their lives in the earthquake (949 was spelt out here in candles in Nepali numerals). Plus on one walk home through Kathmandu I stumbled upon “the chariot of the Rato Machhendranath, the Red God, whose monthlong festival happens every 12 years” also mentioned in the NY Times article. This stage of the procession left the two chariots at a nearby junction for a few days where day and night I witnessed thousands of people come and offer worship and offerings to the Gods;

11 survive

#12 To sum things up, this wall was rebuilt after falling down in the earthquake and I rather love this new street art with a very apt quote from Sarah Kay;

12 sarah kay

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