Encouragement and support from you, your wonderful family members and friends are like drops of rain upon the parched lands of Ghiling and Namgyal villages in Upper Mustang, Nepal.
Nepal Earthquake and Mustang
On the 25th of April, 2015, just before noon, a long-feared major earthquake struck Nepal with a magnitude of 7.8Mw, causing extensive damage to buildings and thousands of deaths and injuries. Countless people were left homeless and hopeless. Hundreds of aftershocks shook the country for several months. During that time, most communication media were out of reach. Luckily for us, though, we managed to obtain information about Mustang district, which is about as far away from the epicenter as Kathmandu.
In Ghiling and Namgyal villages, our major focus was on rebuilding houses and creating a safe environment. Namgyal and Ghiling both received tents and funds for timber and stones. We assisted 900 individuals and distributed more than 2,000 tin sheets to roof houses and schools in the village of Ghiling.
Tents, Tin Sheets and Funds
Tin sheets were scarce, forcing us to go to several cities (Kathmandu, Pokhara, and even Janakpur) to meet our targets. We were able to purchase 217 bundles of tin sheets (more than 2000 sheets) and ship them to Mustang. Due to the poor infrastructure and lack of roads in the area, people* (civilians/porters/laborers) had to make several trips carrying sheets on their backs, crossing landslide areas that were affected by the disaster. They did this across Mustang Gate bridge, The Samar Village, and finally at the waterfall near Sangpoche. People could only carry two tin sheets at a time on their backs. Imagine the nightmare and hardship of getting approximately 2,000 tin sheets across several obstacles, two at a time. We figured out that the transport cost would be much higher than our original estimates after factoring in porters and other expenses. It was a lot of pressure and stress for the people working in the fields, and we appreciate their hard work.
We arrived in Ghiling village with a plan for doing the relief work. But while we were waiting for the tin sheets we gathered stories from door-to-door and observed the houses in the village. The government survey done in April, soon after the quake, had only identified 14 houses as needing repair. But many more houses had been destroyed during the second earthquake in May. Those houses hadn’t been included in the government survey. We found that, out of 64 houses, 40 were completely demolished, and the rest had been demolished at least on one side and required a different approach. Only 2 or 3 houses were safe and unharmed.
Reconstruction faced many issues. In Ghiling, when they dig five feet down they need to remove 200-300 gallons of water – and that is in the dry part. The villagers also feared that a nearby glacial lake would burst and flood the area. Many families wanted us to rethink and re-plan the distribution process. We discussed with village heads, administrators, the head of the school, youth club members, monks, and seniors. Only with everyone’s approval did we distribute the tin sheets equally and fairly. For example, smaller households would receive fewer than the standard of 30 sheets, since they didn’t need the same sized roof, but they would receive more financial aid.
In Namgyal village, eleven out of the twenty mud houses suffered serious damage and were no longer inhabitable. Nine out of these eleven houses were two storey mud houses whose upper floors were either completely damaged or needed to be brought down to ensure the safety of residents and nearby houses. The rest of the houses had major cracks and the families could not afford to build new shelters. We wanted to understand the geology and the reason that the earthquake hit so badly. We found out that the main reasons were the soil, the land structure, and the land foundation. The soil is not strong because it is mixed with a lot of sandy stuff. As a result many of the houses didn’t have proper foundations. The village is also facing lots of challenges for irrigation and electricity.
Relief work for the Ghiling School and Ghiling & Namgyal Monasteries is still underway and in need of continuing support. More information and to support Namgyal Monastery, visit: namgon.org/site/. Contact us for more information about the Ghiling School and Monastery.