by Luke McKee
Rebuilding after tragedy has not been an easy journey for the country of Nepal. On April 25, 2015 the central region of the country was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killing over 8000 people. It was Nepal’s largest earthquake since the 1930s. In the wake of such catastrophe, the world rushed to the country’s aid.
Since April 25, much of the recovery efforts have been focused on the heavily populated capital city of Kathmandu. Rebuilding broken buildings, landmarks and major roadways has been the focus of the work. As a result, the basic rhythm of the city seems to have returned to a relative “normal.”
Bhim Lal, the leader of Good Friends of Nepal (GFN), a ministry partner of Partners International Canada, shares that while the rebuild continues, there are still rural communities that have seen limited arrival of aid. These are communities tucked into the remote areas of Nepal where challenging roads and varying weather conditions create significant obstacles to delivering aid.
In these villages, Bhim Lal says that families continue to survive in make-shift tents, remaining unsure of what the future holds for them.
The church in Nepal is responding to these rural communities despite community opposition they have faced in the past. “The goal of our work is to share God’s love,” says Bhim Lal. “Many of our national workers have experienced difficulties in sharing the gospel, but the distribution of earthquake relief materials gave us an opportunity to practically demonstrate His great love.”
The distribution of these needed materials has brought about community transformation. In one village, a GFN local worker and his family had faced persecution and trouble from their neighbours, particularly from one man and his family. The day of the earthquake the man’s house collapsed, trapping four people inside. The man found the help he was looking for from the local GFN worker who responded immediately and effectively. Rushing to the damaged house, the worker was able to uncover and save three of the four family members. Surprised by his actions, the man remarked, “I’ve been so terrible to you all this time, you had no reason to help us, but because of your help three of my family members are still alive.”
Today the community lives in peace with one another.
These stories are frequent in a country that has been so deeply challenged. The rebuilding process was heavily delayed throughout the winter months by a political protest in the south resulting in a fuel shortage for the entire country. As the protests continued, relief teams were unable to reach these remote regions, leaving many around the country without gas, cooking fuel, and heat. Lineups began to form for access to fuel and the rebuilding efforts were set back months.
As the protest cleared and the fuel returned to the country, the rebuild has been able to continue, but it is clear that it will be an extended process. “Our responses to disasters such as this must be to commit to serving with a long term strategy in mind,” says Partners International president, Kevin McKay. “People remain in temporary shelter and the process of rebuilding beyond the initial stage of emergency relief could take years. In a country that faces great poverty, it is crucial for the world to continue to support the incredible community transformation that is happening in Nepal.”
For the people of Nepal, the earthquake continues to shape their lives. Many will never be able to return to now unstable homes and have been forced to adjust to a new normal. The journey is well underway in Nepal and agencies like Good Friends of Nepal play a vital role in the long term road to recovery. As their work continues, we must continue to pray for Nepal.
Luke McKee is communications coordinator for Partners International Canada, an EFC affiliate organization.