Sudip Khadka (pictured below) is a motivated Nepalese man who runs several orphanages in the Kathmandu area. His ministry, Compassion for Asia (CFA), plants and supports many churches all over the Nepal Himalayas. On 17 May, five days after the second earthquake struck, Simon Tanner, International Director for Helimission, a key organisation supporting MAF's work in Nepal and friend Christophe Bröcker joined Sudip on a supply flight to Thami Chagu.
Supplies are running out
The journey to Thami Chagu, located northeast of Kathmandu, usually takes one day by bus and a day on foot. But Sudip and Simon flew by helicopter MAF provided at only 10% of the operating cost to visit two native Compassion for Asia missionaries, Pastor Buddhiman Thami and Jas Bahadur Thami, living in the village. Since the earthquake, the two trails into the village are now closed by the mudslide and their supplies are running out.
Buddhiman was returning home from Singati, the closest market, making the five-mile journey up the long, steep and narrow trail with his food purchases when the second earthquake hit. He makes this journey almost every week. The steep mountains are difficult even in normal circumstances. Only one-foot wide in most places it takes 5-6 hours for men to do this journey and a whole day for children and women. Looking down there is a 5-600-foot sheer drop to the river below. Looking upwards, all you see are the steep slopes of mud and stone and the sky. There is no place to take rest or hide.
Trail of devastation
Buddhiman was walking with his friends when mud and stones started falling; within seconds the whole trail was gone. He found a big stone laid on its side and hid in it. Many others weren't as fortunate. Four of his friends died immediately, hit by stones falling from the mountains. News reports suggested that there were around 235 people walking that little trail at the time returning to their villages with shopping or seeking help from the government in Singati. Everyone was now dead.
'I don't know how many days it will be until that little trail opens again,' writes Sudip. No one is able to go and recover the dead bodies even now because of the continuing aftershocks. Mudslide and stones are still falling downhill affecting other villages. The only option for the time being is to fly supplies in by helicopter.
'I saw another whole village turned to rubble,' Sudip adds. 'There were only mud, stones, and wood remaining in most of the buildings, including church we built a few years back. There are three other places in Dolakha we are helping by sending emergency help.'
Today, they are making two flights bringing tarpaulins for shelter on the first flight and vital food supplies including 150kg of salt, 140kg of beaten rice, 100kg sugar, 200kg of rice on the second trip. The supplies are for the whole village.
Kumari's 'contagious smile'
Arriving in the village, Simon and Sudip are met by Kumari, a young mother who grew up in one of Sudip's orphanages and is now married to a local man. When the second earthquake hit, Kumari's husband was down in the valley fetching supplies for his family. He can't get back for now, because all trails are blocked and impassable due to many landslides.
Although the first earthquake damaged buildings, it was the second earthquake that devastated the village causing many deaths and reducing almost every house to rubble. 'The tremendous devastation there hit me,' Simon writes. 'Nearly the whole village of around 75 houses was flattened.' Kumari takes us to see what is left of her house and we are greeted with a pile of rubble.
Nearby, they see the one of the temporary shelters hastily constructed to shelter the villagers from the wind and rain. The occupant is the grandmother of Kumari's husband. Kumari's small son plays nearby. He helps to maintain the fire in the 'kitchen'.
But despite the hardship and worry she faces, Kumari's contagious smile brings hope and light to many discouraged people in the village. Kumari is a Christian and it is clear that the hope she bears is not based upon earthly things, but on a vital relationship with God.
She is one of many amazing people being helped by Compassion for Asia and the other Nepali organisations working to reach their countrymen and women in remote hidden corners of Nepal. From humble beginnings, it has now grown to a Christian humanitarian work that feed over 106 children and elderly people every day and gives free, practical education to the poor.
Many more still need reaching
The partnership with MAF and Christian NGO Helimission has been key in getting help to this remote community. And the MAF team has been working tirelessly to reach more and more people every day conducting over 470 flights carrying 825 passengers and 85 tonnes of supplies to 114 different locations by the end of May. While we praise God that help is finally getting through to places like Thami Chagu, we also remember that there are remote communities yet to receive help and many more that will suffer further landslides as the monsoon season begins.
Because there are many more people still to reach, we are extending our disaster response phase of work in Nepal by another month taking operations into August. Pray for our team, our partners and the communities as the recovery efforts continue.