Daniel Burgi popped into the MAF Nepal office with his Sherpa colleague Dandul looking scruffy, excited, and emotional. He told the MAF team, 'I wanted to just give a quick word of thanks to you guys,' and proceeded to describe the two morning helicopter flights loaded with relief materials to two extremely remote villages.
Daniel has worked in Nepal for 18 years with Himalayan Life, a small faith-based NGO, and speaks the language like a native. Last week, before MAF began coordinating the highly-subsidised flights for the earthquake relief in Nepal, Daniel and Dandul trekked for five days into a region northwest of Kathmandu where Dandul’s village is located deep in the mountains - the highest up and farthest away in an area called Sindhupalchok.
'It was an area hard hit but a little overlooked. For three days we didn’t see one single house that was standing,' Daniel described. 'We were absolutely stunned by the devastation. I couldn’t imagine. Nothing left, simply nothing. No rations whatever. The loss of life has not been too bad - hundreds, but if it had been night, I can’t even think what would have happened. No relief items had arrived it that area.'
The two-person team walked from village to village in a long loop, crossing dangerously damaged cable bridges over canyons and rivers, walking on ridges split with deep cracks from the earthquake, visiting a village of less than 100 inhabitants where 37 people died, and another village where the ground had cracked above and below the village, like bookends of warning. When the monsoons begin in mid-June, what will happen?
In one village named Thale with up to 200 people, Daniel said, not only was every house destroyed, the whole slope of the mountain is sliding down. The villagers fled to a grazing ground for their animals on the top of the mountain at about 2,500 metres. As of today, they have been there for 19 days. They had one tarp and no supplies.
This morning, the MAF-coordinated helicopters flew for Himalayan Life to this small, displaced community, bringing desperately needed provisions.
The second flight landed near Yangry, a village of about 600 people and 80 homes that Himalayan Life plans to ‘adopt’. No buildings were left in tact following the first earthquake. “It’s been our prayer that we could identify just one place we can help with all we can - rebuilding schools, bridges, drinking water, houses. Yangry is the place for us,” Daniel said. His four-phase project includes rebuilding and family loans.
'People couldn’t believe that we were actually back. We said we would come back, and we came bringing relief items. It has meant an unbelievable lot to them. So thank you guys. Good job here. We are very, very thankful.'