I arrived in Kathmandu one week ago and in this time, through speaking to friends and overhearing conversations passing by, I have gathered many impressions and stories of the recent earthquakes; where people were, how it has affected them. It was a normal Saturday morning, families gathered together, preparing for a wedding, making food, having a rest, working, walking or driving from A to B, utterly unaware that their lives would change forever in a few seconds when the devastating quakes destroyed lives, families, homes and world heritage sites.
Finding the right words and feelings to describe the aftermath of the earthquake is difficult for me. I am no writer and I will not try to be one, but I will try and share my experiences during my time here.
Having built strong relationships with the people we work with in Kathmandu and the surrounding villages over the last few years and having made many friends, there was no doubt I would come here as soon as I could. I have seen that just being here is appreciated as I can show my support both through friendships and the work I do here.
My first impressions on arriving in Nepal was that everything seems to be the same as ever in the busy streets of Kathmandu, hustle and bustle, colourful, smiling friendly faces and jokes all around.
I received such a warm welcome from my ‘Nepali family’ who I stay with in Kathmandu and was invited to their new holiday home, opened recently for tourists and luckily not damaged by the earthquake. Situated an hour away outside of Kathmandu in the beautiful green countryside town Dhulikhel. I travelled there with my Nepali friend Uttam, and was delighted to be one of the first guests of the Gaia holiday home!
There I met a group of Dutch volunteers who are working at a children’s home and hospital and are part of a team called ‘Acupuncturists Without Borders’. They are here giving acupuncture to help ease the anxiety and trauma many people are suffering after the earthquake, and since the first earthquake hit on April 25th the AWB team has provided around 6400 treatments in 8 highly affected areas. Just one example of the many people here helping in Nepal. Amongst them was Yvonne Brand who has kindly shared many of the images shown here.
Despite many things seeming the same on the surface, there are noticeably less tourists at the moment. But I believe it won’t be long before they will be coming back to visit this incredibly wonderful country and so I must say - if you plan to travel in Nepal I recommend Gaia Holiday Home in Dhulikel and Gaia Restaurant in Kathmandu, it is a treat. Visit their Facebook page for more info.
After being here a few days, walking through the streets, it becomes clearer how the Earthquake has left visible scars, has left people homeless and without their loved ones. The damage is deep and although the emotional trauma may not be so obviously visible it is clearly undeniable. There is huge anxiety about the months ahead as the Monsoon season starts, and with it the risk of landslides in the mountains and villages, destroying yet more homes, as temporary houses cannot withstand these conditions.
Nevertheless there is hope, determination and belief, to rebuild this beautiful country and look forward to a better future. The help and aid from around the world is hugely appreciated and makes people feel a little bit more secure and confident.
I have also spent time with the Association for Craft Producers, who we have worked with now for over 4 years. ACP mainly work with home workers in villages outside Kathmandu. These craftspeople have been affected massively, as not only do they have to rebuild their homes but in many cases their equipment, such as weaving looms, have been damaged making it difficult for them to proceed with their work. They are determined to fulfil orders on time even though we, and every one else is understanding if this is not possible. Meera, the founder of ACP, has set up a programme to help rebuild many houses making them stronger and more durable; the many appreciated donations are distributed to those who need them most. At this point I have to say our artisan knitters have been working tirelessly knitting our knitwear collections and we really appreciate all their great work. We are also glad that the weaving group in Bhaktapur are unharmed and safe.
Last year we started working with a new group called Be-suited who are sewing the hand woven Dhaka cloth and turning our designs into high quality garments. Due to many circumstances the management has changed and we are now happy to build new and exciting relationships with the Nepali team at Be-suited, and by providing this work we hope to contribute to their brighter future.
So all in all the work continues and is making great progress despite the recent disaster and we are excited developing new collections with our Nepali friends for you to see and buy in near future. More updates and news will follow during my stay here.