Earthquake relief volunteering – Sindhupalchowk

For our 2nd trip following the quake we targeted Sindhupalchowk.  Reports suggested this area had suffered the most during the quake with a vast number of buildings destroyed.  It is a long drive from Pokhara to Sindhupalhok, that in fact involved us passing through Kathmandu, but we concluded that if the need was great enough it was worth the longer journey.

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It took a full day of driving to reach the fringes of Sindhupalchok so we camped in a field over night so that we could distribute during the light the next day.  In the morning we continued into Sindhupalchok aiming for the village .  It was clear as we drove further through the region that it had been damaged severely during the quake.  In most villages we passed the vast majority of buildings had been destroyed, it was like nothing we had experienced as yet.
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As we neared our destination we came to a fork in the road which would lead to different villages.  Here hundreds of people had gathered to ensure that their village was not passed over. Unfortunately the fork in the road was also slightly preceded by a river so this where our truck was forced to stop. The military were already present and trying to calm the crowd in which emotions were clearly running high.

Here with the aid of the military we attempted to reach an agreement with the leaders of local villagers.  After a couple of hours of discussions a path was cleared so we could drive a little down the road to at least be out of the river.  Villagers were arriving in seemingly endless numbers and following advice from the military we decided to allow them to organize distribution.  We unloaded our supplies into tarpaulins to protect them from the rain which was beginning to fall then turned it over to the army.  This was not ideally the way we had wanted this mission to end, but the tension was palpable and the military had warned it had escalated in recent days.  The military were far better equipped to control the situation on this occasion than we were and it seemed our only practical option.

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The following day about half an hour out of Kathmandu, we felt the second earthquake.  Reports indicated Sindhupalchok had been hit by several large landslides blocking access roads.  We could only hope that the supplies we had delivered would go some way towards tiding over the people there, until roads could be cleared again.