Wishing namaste to Nepal
I could feel dust and sand in every breath. Tents were set up in every empty lot, filled with people who had lost their homes. Nepal was devastated after the earthquake. In a few hours, my mask had turned yellow and my eyes were blurry. In the aftermath of the destructive earthquake, the “land of the gods” became a land of victims trapped under piles of rocks while refugees were in tents.
What the earthquake victims need most desperately are waterproof clothes, warm blankets, fresh water and food. They have no place to live until their houses are restored. The situation in the mountain villages away from the capital of Kathmandu is even worse. Many of the villages are not accessible as the roads leading to them were destroyed. Some villages do not have phones, and it was hard to understand the scope of the damage. Local authorities are concerned as they will need more relief supplies in June when the rainy season begins.
International relief organizations are helping residents in mountain villages, where assistance from the Nepalese government is not available. On May 3, World Vision workers walked for more than an hour on the mountain trail from Bhaktapur and delivered 200 blankets to four remote villages at an altitude of 2,000 meters.
The 24-year-old Bimala Pariyar of Saraswatistan thanked the workers for the blanket and said, “I had wrapped my three-year-old daughter in clothes and had her sleep on my belly. Thanks to the blanket, she can stay warm at night.”
Seven children’s shelters were set up.
A 13-year-old called Sujata said, “That tent is my house, and my friends live in the next tent. My school shut down, but I am fortunate to have friends around.”
As of May 5, the total death toll from the earthquake has risen to 7,250, with more than 14,000 people injured. There are 109 foreign nationals missing. “It will take 10 years to reconstruct the city,” World Vision Korea’s Yang Ho-seung said.
Nevertheless, some have a business interest in the disaster. As relief goods are exempt from taxes, some merchants have been caught bringing in industrial products without paying tariffs.
In addition, the Nepalese government is being criticized for interfering with civilian organization relief activities. More than 30,000 groups are operating there and many of them lack expertise, which could undermine the rescue operation.
Nevertheless, the only way to overcome the disaster is an international alliance. The United Nations, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and Unicef are helping the affected areas, providing supplies and medical help. Online activists around the world created a map of earthquake damages and are raising funds. With help from around the world, Nepal will be restored slowly.
The Nepalese say “Namaste” as a greeting, which means “I bow to the divinity in you.” We say “Namaste” to Nepal.
*The author is a national news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, May 6, Page 33
by CHAE YOON-KYUNG