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The general goal of these NGOs are to help support the hometown villages and districts from where the leaders of NGO’s are from. Monastery affiliated NGOs with sizeable funds are not as concentrated on certain areas and have the capacity to send aid to areas in need according to information provided by locals. Before the earthquake, both of these Nepalese NGO types engaged in providing free medical care in their areas, sponsorship of schools, provision of school supplies to children from poor families, supply of seeds and seedlings for the people.
Picture by Neel's Shahi archive
Picture from Nimto's Sherpa archive
Currently, the most necessary things in remote areas is shelter, tents and the metal sheets for the roof cover. This is critically important now because the monsoons is starting now, making the roads and living conditions more difficult for both volunteer and earthquake victim. There are still many remote areas that have been unaided by local NGOs.
Picure by Kim Bannister
Nima and Nimto Sherpa are the local leaders of the Himalayan Region Welfare Foundation, the NGO that supports development in Dolakha. Friends from childhood, they grew up in Bigu, a small town near the Tibetan border. Like many young people in Nepalese villages Nima and Nimto had to leave their parent’s home to go to work in Kathmandu and support their families. It was a not easy life waiting for them in a big city. Due to the lack of education, the boys took any hard manual work for very little money. After sometime, Nimto was lucky to get a job as a trekking guide. While trekking in the mountains with European tourists, Nimto learned English and collected contacts, some of whom unbeknownst to him at the time, would become his future customers. One day he came across a village that made paper handicrafts. This business seemed interesting for the young guide and he started to regularly frequent the village. Together with Nima and the brother of Nimto Samten Lama, they started to save money because now there was a goal to start their own business.
By 1995, Nima, Nimto and Samten managed to save enough money to open a small paper fabric company in Kathmandu. Nimto asked all of his European former trekking clients for help in finding customers. He got what he asked for. The business developed successfully and after a few years they bought a land, built a large building for production and two large apartment buildings. Over the last 25 years, the paper fabric company has grown into an established business, with a variety of handicraft paper products that are regularly shown at international exhibitions in Europe. Nimto says, the business now stable. He is especially proud of that their very first customer is still with them.
In their youth, Nima and Nimto promised each other that if they got out of poverty, they would build a school so the future generations will not suffer for a lack of education in the way they did. Ten years ago, these two successful Nepalese businessmen kept their promise and opened a private school of high standard quality of education which also provides school supplies for the entire year. The schools of this level of education cost in Kathmandu from 5000 rupees per month ($ 110) which a lot for ordinary families. The cost for Nima, Samten and Nimto’s school “Samten memorial education academy” is only 500 – 700 rupees ($ 5 – 7) a month. The best students, as well as students from poor families do not pay for their education, but receive scholarships.
After the earthquake, the school was closed for more than a month due to the perceived risks that the on-going aftershocks or another earthquake make bring. During this time, the school grounds were used for a temporary medical camp for the earthquake victims. The building of the school itself was not damaged, and 2 weeks ago it start to work in a usual schedule.
Today Nima and Nimto’s efforts are mainly focused on the paper fabric and school but four years ago they established the Himalayan Region Welfare Foundation (HRWF), an NGO that provided medical care to Dolakha as well as starter plants and seeds for farming. HRWF was also providing computers and education materials every year for the 6 schools of Dolakha region. Since the earthquake, HRWF began providing humanitarian aid since most buildings in Dolakha were destroyed.
Picture from Nimto's Sherpa archive
There are still villages needed immediate aid within this region, that have not yet been reached. Nimto reached out to his contacts for help. The HRWF wanted to collect donations to buy thin iron sheets for sturdy roofing basic structures which could endure the monsoon. There is discussion within many volunteer groups to rebuild Nepal with non-traditional way so that new buildings can withstand another earthquake. Last week more ecological architects came to Nepal to work in remote areas and to organize lectures and workshops within Kathmandu.
On April 29th at the Auditorium of the Himalayan Bank, Kathmandu a group of French architects spoke about bamboo construction technology and yurts. These experts have been working constructing bamboo houses in affected areas for several weeks. Many of the building materials are locally available and the cost of each shelter is ~$2000 USD.
More eco-building technology was presented on June 1st in the conference hall of the Hyatt Residency by famous Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Shigeru Ban is renowned for creating architectural buildings and disaster relief housing from recycled wastes. He often works in disaster areas because he believes "the work of the architect should not be confined to commercial projects." He has offered to rebuild sturdy shelter in Nepal with paper tubes. The project is still in development and the cost of construction has not been announced. His prototype was available for viewing in the garden of Hyatt Residency. The base of the structure were made from paper tubes, and the foundation of plastic beer crates.
At the picture the "weekend house" from paper tubes of Shigeru Ban. Although the building have not been used since it was build, becouse Shigeru Ban has no weekends.
I have seen the similar technologies before in France, at the working area of the anarchist architect Michel Rossel. Michel proposed in seismic zones to use old tires for foundation.
At the picture one of the eco house in France at the place of architect Michel Rossel
The monsoon is already starting now in Nepal. According to information from independent sources, humanitarian aid will unlikely reach all the affected areas, some locations are accessible only by helicopter. Helicopter trips are now sponsored by individuals or NGO’s funds. What is going on at the affected areas of Tibet nobody knows. According to information from the tourists who was in Tibet by the time the earthquake was started, the Chinese government were not in a hurry to supply any help to the victims.
picture byMonika Napieraj
On the eve of the rainy season, the country seemed to freeze in shock. A lot of people in rural areas are still living outside, without any shelter. Damaged roads will get even worse, the rainy season ends in September just before the cold winter begins. .
“Natural disasters in reality do not exist. This concept exists only in our perception. For instance, if the if the earthquake occurred in the desert, where no one lives, one would not call it a disaster. Or if all homes in Nepal were built in a earthquake-proof manner, one would not call it a disaster.
The catastrophe begins only in the places where people suffer. In the places where the buildings are destroyed it’s because the rules of the safe construction have not being followed," says Sonian Smith, a presenting member of ICOMOS.
"The earthquake will be over, the world will forget about Nepal, here will be the starting point of real disaster," said Khen Rinpoche Geshe Choni, abbot of Kopan Monastery.
Larissa Matteyssen, Kathmandu
English edition by Julie Pearn