Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Unreached Outskirts

It's been five days since a horrifying 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal.

In the most recent article I could find, the official death toll has reached 5800 people but there could be as many as 15,000 dead according to the TIME article.

Since the earthquake, Kiran has been in contact with our Nepali friends and the Khanalthok community. All three of our translators from last year's assessment trip are safe. Kiran's family in Surkhet is safe. And as far as she has heard, everyone in Khanalthok is safe.

Meet Yubaraj Shrestha.

Yubaraj is a young man from Khanalthok who has been helping us with the project. He posted photos of Khanalthok on Facebook and gave me permission to post some of them here.

Homes are falling down.

People are unsure of the structural security of their homes and are scared to go back inside.

So they are sleeping outside in makeshift tents.

But it seems that the health outpost still has electricity so we can keep in contact.

Most of the disaster relief is focused in Kathmandu and communities like Khanalthok are left to fend for themselves. Our team member, Matina, hopes to visit Khanalthok soon with a rescue team to bring some supplies to Khanalthok. 

Kathmandu might get most of the news coverage, but communities on the outskirts were devastated as well. Khanalthok was lucky and didn't get hit too hard. But there are many other small communities that were. Our team's thoughts and prayers are with the community of Khanalthok and the rest of the country of Nepal. 

Photos courtesy of Yubaraj Shrestha

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Assessment 2015 - Post Earthquake Update

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal Saturday has been plastered across front page news for the past couple of days. 

With that in mind our travel team has met to discuss whether they should still go on the trip or not. Everyone was itching to go and help in whatever way they could, but it was decided that it was prudent to postpone the trip until conditions are safe and our assessment can be our main focus. 

2014-2015 Team Lead Sebastian Vargas posted this in our Facebook group yesterday in regard to traveling:

Update on Travel Plans
Due to the recent events in Nepal and after a lot of discussion and gathering of information, we have decided to postpone our Assessment trip to Khanalthok.
I want to apologize on behalf of the travel team for not having spoken earlier, but due to the emotional characteristics of the situation along with the ever changing stream of information the team was receiving, it would have been irresponsible for us to make announcement without any certainties.
Ever since the Earthquake, Kiran, Vita, Maurice and I have been reaching out to our partners in Nepal, local NGOs such as the Red Cross, EWB-USA and our families to gather as much information as possible about the situation. Today we received information from Santosh and the International SOS organization that allowed us to reach what we think is the most reasonable and responsible decision for the community, the project and our team.
Earlier in the morning the travel team spoke to the International SOS. Their on-site team sent a report with their assessment of the situation in Nepal. Below are the main factors from it that we considered to arrive to our decision:

  • Further tremors are possible in the coming days, posing a threat to life and property. Overland travel between Kathmandu valley and the rest of the country is limited. 

  • The ability to secure larger private vehicles is severely restricted. 

  • Hospitals and shelters are currently crowded and hospital supplies are overstretched. Up to 80% of the city's population is currently sleeping outdoors. 

  • Damage to several hotels has put a severe strain on the availability of accommodation. While international business-class hotels are open, guests in some hotels are having to sleep outside due to structural damage and fear of aftershocks.

  • It is only advisable for experts / aid agencies / disaster relief assistance to be in the country at this time.Santosh (through continued communication with Kiran) and Matina through Facebook have help us confirm the information of this report first hand and we continue to be very concerned for their, their families and communities safety.

We send our thoughts and prayers to Khanalthok and the rest of Nepal and hope that you will join us in doing so. Along with that, I hope you will consider donating to a reputable aid organization for immediate relief efforts in Nepal.

Check back soon for another post on the situation in Khanalthok.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Assessment 2015 Travel Team

The 2015 Assessment Trip's travel team has been announced!

We are so excited to be sending: 
  • current team lead Sebastian Vargas
  • future team lead Vita KaroblytÄ—
  • communications lead Kiran Gaulee
  • professional mentor Maurice Tobon
We are looking forward to completing our technical assessment of the secondary school. The team sets out May 9th on an eight day trip. We are excited to continue our progress on this project! Look out for trip blogs next month!