Six days in the life of a relief worker
Six days in the life of a relief worker

Ever thought of being in the thick of things in a disaster situation? Paul Wright, a former UMN-er with years of experience, has returned temporarily to Nepal to help with earthquake response work. At present, he’s helping one of UMN’s local partners, Nepal Christian Relief Services, in their disaster response activities. Here he writes about his recent trip to Gorkha.

I’ve been in Gorkha for the last six days helping with a distribution of rice, daal, oil and salt to 900 families in Saurapani VDC, about 3.5 hours’ walk from the epicentre of the 7.8 quake on 25 April. All the houses there are uninhabitable at best, a pile of rocks, wood and dust at worst. Too many were graves for people and livestock.

The distribution was delayed by problems with transport, resulting in me leaving my quarters on Friday at 8:00am, walking several miles, sitting out in the hot sun and carrying 25kg bags of rice around (in the dark, mostly) until midnight. Then, I stopped for my evening meal and went to sleep in the local school at 1:00am (somebody kindly arranged a mat and a blanket – and a sack of daal for a pillow!). I had been soaked in sweat for most of the evening (I personally moved over 250 25kg bags of rice). Up the next morning at about 5:00am, and the distribution started at 8:00am and continued all day until 5.30pm. I managed to get lunch around 2.30pm.
I eventually returned to my quarters by 6.30pm. I had not washed, shaved, brushed my teeth (ugh!) or changed since leaving, 34 hours earlier. I was not nice to be near! A cold bucket shower had never seemed so good. Unfortunately my clothes were not all dry by the morning (having had to wash them) but I wore them anyway. We caught the bus at 8.30am and arrived at Mugling at 1.30pm, having had to stand up for 4.5 hours! Google Maps gives this as 65km – here, that’s 3 hours, without traffic.

I eventually got back ‘home’ to Kathmandu at 6.30pm and rang the NCRS co-ordinator to tell her of my arrival. She thanked me for my input and suggested I take some rest before coming into the office. I thought this was very thoughtful of her, until she suggested 10:00am tomorrow was early enough!

Poor Paul! Still, he did get an hour off!

Nepali women have an enviable ability to wait

Receiving relief supplies

Villagers setting off with their loads of goods

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