Truckloads of relief material organised by Church charities has begun moving across Nepal a week after the Himalayan nation was rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
“I am glad that much-needed aid is finally beginning to reach remote areas,” Greg Auberry, Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) regional director for East and South Asia, told Catholic News Service on May 4.
Auberry had just returned to Kathmandu from Gorkha — just 85 miles from the capital but five hours of rough mountain drive — where CRS and Caritas Nepal staff had distributed relief material including tarps, dry rations, hygiene items and water purification tablets.
“Given the mountainous terrain, getting relief supplies to even the most convenient locations for people to collect them is not easy. It took CRS several hours with small tractors — one getting stuck — to get the tarpaulins and household supplies to the village of Bukrang near Gorkha,” said Auberry, who oversaw relief distribution in the region May 3.
“People walked miles to come,” he added.
Nine days after the earthquake, the Nepal government revised the death toll to more than 7,200 killed and 14,300 injured, while thousands have gone missing.
Fr Pius Perumana, Caritas Nepal director, told CNS that besides CRS contingent, officials of a dozen national Caritas affiliates such as Cafod, Cordaid and Caritas of nearly a dozen countries had reached Nepal to augment the Church relief work.
“While relief material is being material sent to different remote areas, our assessment teams also have gone to the worst-hit areas. We are meeting on a daily basis to coordinate the relief work,” Fr Perumana said.
While senior Church workers plan out the strategies, Church centres and parishes in Kathmandu are a beehive of volunteers and buzzing with activity. Even Hindu volunteers have joined Catholic youth and others to prepare parcels of tea, sugar and lentils for distribution in the villages.
Meanwhile, Catholic communities in Nepal were mobilising all of their resources.
“We have eight mobile health clinic vans scattered in Nepal. We have directed all of them to the disaster areas,” Jesuit Father Boniface Tigga, Jesuit provincial of Nepal, told CNS on May 4. He said they also had sent out truckloads of supplies.
Good Shepherd Sister Taskila Nicholas told CNS that “the situation in the villages is very bad.”
“People have to walk for five and six hours to reach the roads to get food or any help. I am worried about the old and the injured in the mountains. What can they do?” said Sister Nicholas while traveling to Kathmandu to collect relief material for distribution.
“On Sunday, some of our sisters and others walked seven hours to reach relief material to the people in some of the villages,” she said.