Monday, May 4, 2015

Message from Olga and Nori in Nepal

May 3, 2015
Gopi, one of the Nepali rescuers that we traveled into the mountains with invited us to dine with his family last evening. The Nepali eat late, 8 p.m. and the meal is always Dahl Baht, rice with a variety of veggies, lentil soup, meat. They eat with their hands, we didn’t. Last night it was chicken and buffalo meat. Today both of us are suffering, after only eating vegetarian for the last two months the buffalo meat is tormenting our gut, sitting heavy, and feels like we’ve ingested shards of glass. Buffalo meat is sinewy, tasteless and you can chew it for a month and it will not dissolve, but we ate it, swallowed hard as we did not want to offend our host. Today we suffer.
Last night, while watching Al Jazeera news report on Nepal’s catastrophe, the newscaster got visibly chocked up . It was the first time I’ve ever seen this in all my years of watching news. The story being reported was of a mother and baby being unburied from the rubble and the husband taking to drink to drown his reality. Indeed it was heartbreaking.
The BBC is warning of scams, to watch where you donate money. Many speak of the Red Cross and how donations get sucked into the vortex of administration fees and a pittance ends up as help (one only has to look at Haiti’s situation). The Himalyan Times have reported that any money being sent into Nepal via Western Union will have the transfer fee waived; this will remain in place until May 15th, 2015. Sadly, people on the street are beginning to beg once again.
When you enter Nepal, immigration will hand you a yellow pamphlet giving information to tourists. At the bottom of the pamphlet they ask not to give money to beggars, it seems they don’t want Nepal to become a country of beggars, but Nepal has been brought down to its knees with this earthquake, it is a country shattered. Here in Hetauda, I noticed that the mantra of Nepal, which is “Namaste, gimme you money” did not exist and it made a refreshing change from other places where as soon as I point my camera at a person they yell out “you gimme money”, alas that has changed. In the last few days, I’ve been approached three times by adults asking for money. I know this chant will become more audible as the days roll on. I have been taught by the Nepali on how to say “don’t beg” ….it is “chaina na magnu” and literally translated means do not ask this way. I have used it, much to the shock of the beggars be they children or adults
The Nepali group are collecting “data” and are trying to determine what is needed for the next venture into the mountains between Hetauda and Kathmandu. We have been told that tarps will be needed for certain. Yesterday another earthquake measuring 5.1 hit the devastated area of Gorka at about 11:30 a.m. I felt it. People continue to sleep outside under tarpaulins, especially where their homes were compromised.
Here in peaceful Hetauda, they are tearing down a large building that has suffered damage. Gopi told us that the building was standing during his grandfather’s time, so it was old and poorly constructed. Buses leaving for Kathmandu remain empty, jeeps carrying aid continue to abound, but for the most part life goes on as it did pre-earthquake.
OH OUR ACHING STOMACHS – this buffalo is making us moan unintelligibly at times.
We receive an email from Nabaraj, they are ready to tell us what is needed. We take the Nepali tuk tuk and over a cup of coffee, learn:
that 6 tarps have been donated, but they need 4 more,
that homes have lost all their kitchenware,
that another Nepali group is asking if we wouldn’t mind donating a sack of rice (we donate two),
that they need plastic mats.
Here is how it breaks down:
A sack of rice is 30 kilograms – 1,000 rupees or 10 USD per sack. We bought two
One tarp is 937 rupees or 9.40 USD each. We bought 4
One roll of plastic at 50 meters is 6,500 rupees or 65 USD. We bought two.
Kitchenware boxes and boxes of goods 4,400 rupees or 44 USD.
For anyone saying “oh those Nepali people don’t know how to help themselves and are only asking for handouts” I will be the very first to jump down their throats. We know and have helped two Nepali groups. Nepali people are helping Nepali people. I am sure there are more here in this community.
This afternoon was spent with Nabaraj, our contact man. We went to various stores to purchase goods. He knew what to buy, he did the bargaining for us, he even refused to buy rice at one store because he knew he could get it cheaper elsewhere. He buys, we pay. EASY.
Tomorrow we have been invited by two groups to travel with them to the devastated areas. If “my” group doesn’t go tomorrow then the other group, for whom we purchased rice, has invited us along.
This second group took down our names and in true Nepali fashion we sat around and chatted in a crowded room with one dog constantly scratching at his ears. They wanted to throw him out, but we insisted “no no no we like dog”….they left him alone and I ended up scratching his ears for him.
Nepli love to chat, it is their culture. Of course we couldn’t chat and just sat there holding our stomachs with buffalo grinding inside. They offered us soft drinks and Nabaraj told them all about us….the word “Canada” was thrown around.
We have never enjoyed throwing money around as much as we have today. Tomorrow somewhere in the devastation a family will not go hungry, a family will not be cold and family will sleep under shelter on soft plastic mats.

1 comment:

KUIDAORE said...

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News as a Weapon: Hollington Tong and the Formation of of the Guomindang Centralized Foreign Propaganda System, 1937-1938