April the 25th 2016 was exactly one year since the huge earthquake that devastated Nepal and its people.
April the 25th 2016 was five days since we returned from a month in Nepal.
This is a start of a series of small articles about what we saw and experienced there one year after the earthquake.
It was not the only thing that hit Nepal hard last year, following on from the earthquake was the blockage of goods and fuel from India into Nepal. This resulted in prices for vehicle fuel rocketing and even cooking gas and oil became hugely expensive as it was starting to be smuggled through and sold on the black market at extortionate prices that the local people could not afford.
There was nowhere really in Nepal that was not affected by the earthquake, even in areas that were not physically damaged the loss of tourist revenue was felt so hard by the Nepali
s, it is after all one of Nepal`s biggest financial incomes. Arriving in KTM and spending some days there, we wandered around the city and was amazed how on one corner everything would look fine and then turning the same corner there would be destruction of buildings facing you.
Durbar Square the UNESCO world heritage site suffered a lot but at the same time so much still stood. We meet one boy there among the temple complex called Sudip who was no more than 12 years old. He told us that he had lost both his parents in the earthquake, then telling us the reason he was in his uniform was that he had just finished a school exam and so had the afternoon free. Every day after sleeping on the streets he would wake up go to the school, wash get ready have a breakfast they supplied and do his school work. He never asked us for anything, his strength amazed me, he made me think of my small son, my heart went out to him and I felt tears in my eyes.
We met a jewellery sales man in his shop that told us after the earthquake of two weeks ago he sent his children and wife to relatives living in America and Tibet to be safe and now he could rest easier because if anything happened he only had to look after himself. Before this and after the first big earthquake a year ago, he would worry all day because his children would be at school and his wife at home and him in the shop, all separated. They used to all come home at the end of the day and with other families they would all go and sleep in big open areas away from buildings, which is hard to do in Kathmandu.
He explained to us how when there is an earthquake, the ground you are standing on moves like jelly in a bowl, can you imagine – I tried, but all I could think about was how would I react if something happened like this around me, my thoughts went to being separated from my son in a time of disaster, again I felt tears in my eyes.
Time and time again we heard more and more of these stories while being surrounded by destroyed buildings and areas, but time and time again all these stories were told by smiling, happy, positive people.
This is the most amazing thing, the spirit of the Nepali people is so strong, so accepting of the fact “What can you do, you have to just carry on and believe in the future”. I could not imagine people in Europe being so optimistic after such a year. Yet there they were the Nepali people welcoming us to their beautiful land with warm hearts, open arms and happy smiles.
The day we arrived in KTM was the day of the Holi Festival, where in tradition people throw huge amounts of powder paint and water over each other. It was incredible, KTM was over run with happy people running around shouting, laughing and throwing paint. I have never been in a place with so many happy people in one go, it was infectious and uplifting beyond words. Many of the Locals said that they had not seen a Holi like it for many years. Maybe it was because it was the first Holi since the earthquake and blockage? I do not know; but Nepal and its people are alive and living in the present with a belief that outstrips anything I have ever seen before. They look forward to the future with hope and warmth and smiles. We need to help these beautiful people rebuild their lives in the present time and for the future. The best way to do that is by going there and spending money in the local areas so the local people profit from it. Nepal was and still is one of the most amazing trekking destinations in the world but also just for a cultural holiday it and its people are
world-class. Please go and see for yourself these beautiful people and the humanity they have. Go discover not only Nepal but yourself, go and realise when you come back how fortunate you are to be living in a first world country where there is so much given to you. Maybe you will learn to be happier in your everyday life just by being around the Nepali people and absorbing some of their strength and positive energy.
Please go, they are waiting for you with open arms and hearts.