Salvation Army begins large-scale distribution in Nepal
4 May 2015
The first supplies have reached The Salvation Army's emergency response team in Nepal, meaning that large-scale distribution can begin.
A team from India arrived late last week with a delivery of 700 boxes of bottled water and 130 boxes of noodles (almost 6000 packets). Young volunteers from The Salvation Army in Nepal worked tirelessly to get the goods off the truck and into storage. Bags of rice, lentils, oil and salt were also purchased locally.
In Lalitpur, a district to the south of Kathmandu, 15 families have been identified as having lost everything. Because of their proximity to The Salvation Army response team's base, these families will be first recipients of the newly acquired essentials, with rice, dhal, oil, water and salt being distributed immediately.
An assessment visit to Bhaktapur, a few miles from Kathmandu, showed even greater devastation. Bhaktapur District is an ancient community which, before the earthquake, contained houses and Hindu temples more than 1000 years old. Most of them have been reduced to rubble. Search and rescue teams are continuing to work in this area in the hope of finding survivors, but the death toll continues to rise, with many people still unaccounted for.
Fifteen hundred people are living in camps in this area, with another camp being established to take further residents. People are taking great risks to recover their belongings from homes that could fall down at any moment, but for many the fear of looting prevents them moving to safety.
The Salvation Army team is also reaching out to remote communities which have not received outside help. One group headed to Sindhupal, where there is no power, taking shovels and axes to help villagers who are trying to excavate bodies that have been buried in collapsed buildings. The village is very difficult to reach because of landslides and floods caused by the earthquake.
Captain MacDonald Chandi, who is on secondment to International Emergency Services (a section of The Salvation Army's International Headquarters) has had to overcome similar problems on the way to Ramechhap, where he went with a team to conduct a needs assessment.
He reports: “It took seven hours to drive there after struggling with roads that were uneven, stony and broken due to landslides. After safely arriving we saw that most of the houses were totally damaged and it was hard for the community people to live in them. They said they wouldn't want to take the risk of returning to their houses even if they were still standing.
“Community leaders and a few family members we spoke with shared their sorrow and said that they are very down because they have lost their loved ones. Now they don’t have place to get shelter and they don’t have money to buy anything to cover them. Our assessment showed that there is a desperate need of tents or tarpaulins for people to live in until they can build proper houses.”
Major Lalnunsangi Ralte reports that Salvation Army team emergency responders are now working in three camps in Kathmandu and also around their base, which is just outside the capital. While they wait for the arrival of further supplies including tents, they continue to distribute rice, lentils, cooking oil, salt and water.
The international Salvation Army continues to support the relief effort in Nepal through generous donations and also through prayer. An initial US$20,000 rapid relief project funded by the USA-based Salvation Army World Services Office (SAWSO) is paying for the purchase and transport of tents, water and blankets for 40 families.
The Hong Kong and Macau Territory has agreed to fund a similar project for 1000 families (around 5000 people) at a cost of more than US$300,000.