Just returned from an invaluable and highly rewarding return to Nepal with an old friend and fellow medic [Royston Polding] first met whilst serving in the Special Forces. Aim was to follow up on some personal earthquake relief projects: establishing the new water supply for the village of Chyasarpa (Dolakha region), providing much needed general medical and health & hygiene assistance in the remote villages and holding several meetings with supporting agencies and partners.
The general picture is infinitely improved from four months ago when I was last here. Any village whose home was destroyed by the earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May have received lump sum donations from the Government; homes have or are being rebuilt (albeit with wood and corrugated sheeting); and we saw very few people still living under tarpaulin or tents, either in Kathmandu or the hills.
On the school side, from the phase 1 immediate temporary learning centres (large tents) dispatched post quake, most schools have also received government funding for phase 2 rebuilds (wood and corrugated sheeting). Phase 3 permanent rebuilds of stone for larger schools remains funding or work in progress.
Overall, the $4 bn dollar fund held by the Nepalese Government does, therefore, appear to be trickling down to the people, backed by the substantial donations from NGOs.
With all this money around, ensuring it goes directly to those who need it is of prime importance, not least for the relatively small fund which I started that people generously donated to.
I have previously written on the enormous waste, salaries, admin and PR costs and. above all, duplication of the big aid agencies. While smaller NGOs and funds don't suffer nearly the same, there are, however, dangers of vested interests or, indeed corruption getting in the way of moneys going to where intended. And hence one purpose of my visit - in the case of my fund every dollar breakdown will be accounted for in full transparently on this site.
Seduwa school in the Makalu region, which was destroyed and was the original target of my fund, is now being completely rebuilt by a Korean NGO $300,000 fund, so there is now no need for any further funds there.
Unless there are any objections, therefore, I intend to use approximately $2000 of the fund on the new water piping and accessories for Chiyasarpa in Dolakha, which lost its water supply in a post-quake landslide resulting in much of the village being sick from the alternate tainted sources. Visiting the village last week, I am pleased to say that the sickness has largely subsided, piping has been delivered and final equipment should be purchased in the coming week.
I am also looking at education scholarships with partners Mission Himalaya and Seven Summits Treks, the former in the well planned Eco Village one hour from Kathmandu.
There is evidently still much needed medical work in the high hills, mostly skin lesions and conditions and gastric condition, which Royston and myself - who both worked in hospitals on our medic training and are qualified EMTs - were full on in treating. I am thus now working on a possible project with Mission Himalaya and hope to get this off the ground in the coming two months.
Despite the enormous damage suffered, Nepal - with a new constitution - is on the road to recovery and the message of 'Trek Nepal, build Nepal' is very apt - now is a great time to visit and the country will welcome all with open arms.