by Martin Thomas
Top surgeons from the Ear, Nose and Throat team at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool went barefoot to support a national social media fundraising campaign to help survivors of the Nepal earthquakes.
The ENT team at the hospital are best known for their work as the regional centre of excellence, and leading national research programmes. The team are part of the largest Head and Neck unit in the country.
But they swapped their skills in the theatre to go barefoot for the #NoSocksRocks charity fundraising initiative led by their colleague, consultant anaesthetist Dr Shambhu Acharya.
The campaign on social media aims to raise funds for UK charity Health Exchange Nepal. HExN has already sent a 21-strong team of volunteer doctors from Britain to help survivors of the two earthquakes which struck Nepal in April and May, causing thousands of casualties.
Dr Acharya, pictured centre, said: “It’s great to get the support of my colleagues for such a worthwhile cause. We’re well on the way towards our £100,000 target, and every time someone takes a photo and makes a small donation then we move that much closer. Every penny donated makes a difference to lives of people in Nepal who survived the earthquakes, but who now have significant medical needs.”
To help HExN raise awareness of the earthquake appeal and to reach their fundraising target of £100,000, the charity is inviting supporters to share photos of themselves without socks at work or taking part in their favourite activities, using the hashtag #NoSocksRocks to then challenge their friends.
Prof Satyan Rajbhandari, General Secretary of HExN, said: “People have been very generous across the country, and that support has enabled us to get doctors to the areas most in need in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
“The terrible injuries many survivors have will require long-term support. Our next challenge is to offer rehabilitation treatment to people in Nepal, so that we can give them the best quality of life.”
Jeremy Ward, Chairman of HExN, added: “We hope that lots of people will support the No Socks Rocks! campaign and donate to the appeal, because every penny makes a difference. Using #NoSocksRocks will ensure that we’re continuing to make people aware of how much help is still needed for those in Nepal.”
To find out more about the No Socks Rocks campaign, follow HExN on Twitter @HExNepal, Facebook at HexN, or visit the website at http://www.hexn.org.
THIENSVILLE — The cheel restaurant in Thiensville will be hosting the first annual ‘cheel-abration’ to celebrate their one year anniversary. The free event is to help raise money for earthquake victims in Nepal.
Saturday, July 18th the event will celebrate Nepalese culture and bring tasty cuisine to southeastern Wisconsin.
Numerous activities will be at the event including live music, henna (Mehndi) art, and a water balloon fight.
Folks can also enjoy the outdoor bar where there will be wine, beer and spirit tasting — as well as food sampling! The food tasting will include fing salad, chicken choyla, wild boar pit roast, brats, hot dogs, chips and aachars.
The cheel will be selling wrist bands (optional) which will give guests access to all the tastings and henna art. The wrists bands cost $10 for children and $20 for adults.
20% of the funds raised from the wrist bands will go towards the victims of the Nepal earthquake.
So far, the cheel has raised over $16,000 for earthquake victims.
For more information on the HOPE for NEPAL fundraising site, CLICK HERE.
If you would like to attend the event on Saturday, July 18th you can RSVP HERE.
a little older publication but relevant.
Many internationally recognized monuments preserved intact for centuries have been destroyed, but hope remains that Nepal’s shattered heritage sites can be rebuilt.
Nepalese visitors walk on ruins near the Nyatapola temple in Bhaktapur. The temple itself survived the earthquake.
The road to the Changu Narayan temple winds through the outskirts of Kathmandu, past villages, wheat fields and up through leafy woods. There is a village, now partly ruined, and then a steep walk up a narrow alley between broken homes to the temple’s shattered remains. From the piles of rubble which surround the cracked central shrine, the view extends across the entire Kathmandu valley.
Below lies Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square and palace, a medieval township preserved almost intact for centuries but now in ruins. Further away are the palaces of Patan, which are cracked or collapsed. In the far distance are scores of other monuments, most listed by Unesco as being of global importance and almost all badly damaged.
“Kathmandu was a city of temples. Now it is a city of tents,” Prof Madhab Gautam of the local Tribhuvan University, said.
The death toll in Nepal’s “Great Quake”, as local media are calling it, stands at 6,260 and could climb much higher. Many villages in remote areas that were badly hit by the 7.8-magnitude quake on Saturday have yet to be reached. But along with immense human loss, there is cultural loss too. And its extent is also unknown.
“We have sent a team out beyond the Kathmandu valley to assess the damage. We know some temples have been destroyed,” said Bheshraj Dahan, head of the government’s Department of Archaeology.
Nepalese police clear rubble at the Narayan temple in Kathmandu.
Around Changu Narayan temple, which is 1,600 years old, police officers tentatively inspected the remaining walls. A massive granite beam, shaken off its two upright supports, lay on the ground. Nearby a massive brass bell lay among tangled prayer flags.
“We are worried about a further collapse but we have brave hearts,” PC Kin Magha said.
The sprawling complex, which covers the top of the hill and gleams in the low evening light, is covered in ornate wooden carvings and statuettes. Many are cracked or detached.
Such works are highly sought after on the international art market. Nepal has long been a target of organised theft of artefacts, many of which end up in private collections or museums in the west.
In Patan on Friday, soldiers moved tonnes of carved wood and masonry into the secure central courtyard of the old palace.
Soldiers clear rubble of temples at Patan’s Durbar Square.
Outside, a stone griffon lay on its side on the flagstones of the main square, but a gilded Garuda, the mythical bird, remained firmly, and somewhat miraculously, on its high pillar.
“So many things – religious, cultural, historical, social, economic – are interconnected here. This is a city for which the cultural sites are part of its skeleton. If you take them away, the city collapses,” Gautam said as he watched the debris being cleared.
Every Nepalese village has its shrine, and even in Kathmandu temples are central to community life. Unofficial neighbourhood watch schemes have sprung up to guard cultural sites. Mrigen Joshi, 21, said he and dozens of others had been guarding Durbar Square.
“We see it as our property so we should preserve it. We stay until nightfall and then the army take over,” Joshi, a student, said.
Lakshmi Shreshtra, 71, said the destroyed temples in the square had been “companions” since birth. “I played on them when I was a little girl. Young people meet there. Old people go to sit in the sun and talk there. I go every day to prayer there. Everyone comes together to celebrate our festivals there,” she said.
A Buddhist monk salvages religious items from a monastery around the Swayambhunath stupa
A small nearby temple with a lockable gate was being used as a store for relief material. About 80% of Nepalese are Hindu, and the shrine was dedicated to Ganesh, the god known as a remover of obstacles, among other things.
Then, of course, there is the economic element. Almost 10% of Nepal’s economy depends on tourism. Yards from the devastated Changu Narayan temple, Kamal Bhujel, a traditional religious artist, was trying to salvage elaborate Buddhist paintings from the rubble of his studio and shop. “I have lost 15 years worth of work. All my pupils have lost their homes and have fled,” he said.
The owner of a guesthouse next door sifted the ruins of his establishment. He had just invested in an Italian-made coffee machine to serve western clients.“We are ruined. No one will come here now. The foreigners will be too scared,” Anis Bhatta, 25, said.
Quake victims are cremated in Pashupatinah, Kathmandu
Some are already blaming corrupt officials for the destruction of the temple. They are alleged to have turned a blind eye to massive illegal quarrying of sand from the hill on which the temple stands. This, it is believed, weakened the foundations of the structure.
“It is too soon to make any link but it is entirely plausible. We have opened an inquiry,” said Insp Dinesh Bandari, the most senior officer in the area.
Government officials say they have received pledges of financial assistance for reconstruction of the monuments from European states, India and Unesco. Dahan, of the Department of Archaeology, said he was confident that all would be restored within five to seven years.
The Kathmandu valley lies at a historic crossroads of Asian trade routes, religion and cultures. Its monuments are internationally recognised as of unique quality and importance, mixing Indian and Tibetan styles as well as Hindu and Buddhist iconography. The kingdoms of the Kathmandu valley, fertile and well-defended, were among the most powerful and vibrant in south Asia when at their peak between the 15th and the 18th centuries.
“Heritage can be rebuilt. Once every hundred years an earthquake has destroyed the palaces and temples but our kings always restored them. That we can do. It is just a question of money,” Kunda Dixit, editor of the local Nepali Times, said.
The Boudhanath Stupa remains standing in Kathmandu
After the last major earthquake, in 1934, many buildings had to be rebuilt. Rohit Ranjitkar, a local cultural historian and conservationist, said he was confident that those damaged this time would also be restored. “This is our heritage. This is our duty,” he said.
In the narrow lanes of the village under the Changu Narayan temple, a medical camp has been set up be an international NGO, and a yellow tarpaulin sheltered those whose homes had been destroyed. These included Sunita Bhadel, who ran a small museum in the temple.
Nepal and the world had an obligation to restore the complex to its former glory, she told the Guardian. “It is the most important temple in the country. But that is not the point. It is just simply impossible to imagine any community, any village, anywhere, without its shrine, whether it is as big as this one, or just a pile of stones,” Bhadel, 27, said.
• The caption on the first picture was amended on 7 May 2015 to clarify that the Nyatapola temple survived the earthquake.
by Ed Douglas
While the damage from April’s earthquake will take years to overcome, Nepal is making progress in its bid to attract visitors back for the autumn trekking season
Nepal’s lure as one of the world’s great trekking destinations is likely to see visitor numbers recover quickly
Whether recent events in Greece, Tunisia and even Calais have a long-term impact on tourism, beyond the immediate effects of changed and cancelled bookings, remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the 7.8 magnitude earthquake Nepal suffered on 25 April, and its severe aftershocks, served a crushing blow to the country’s industry.
Yet already, just two months later, Nepal is gearing up to tell the world it’s back in the travel business. Nepal’s government is desperate to change the narrative after April’s disaster, which killed almost 9,000 people, in time for the peak tourist season in October and November. Visitors bring in $1.6bn to a poor country whose economy has been recovering from a decade-long civil war (1996-2006).
Despite a severe travel warning from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) having being in effect – though as of 3 July the FCO no longer advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Nepal – many leading adventure travel companies are planning to return in the near future, including Exodus andG Adventures. Fiona Marshall of KE Adventure Travel says: “We’ve decided to operate in Nepal this autumn. Bookings are slow, but that’s natural. Many of our clients have been to Nepal before and are keen to go. We’re speaking to people in Nepal every day, and we know the country’s getting back to normal.”
People walk around Durbar Square in Kathmandu on 18 June 2015, with rubble still visible following the April earthquake.
Marshall points out that most of Nepal was largely unaffected by the earthquake. Of 75 districts, only 14 suffered damage. Almost all national parks and protected areas, including the fabulous wildlife sanctuaries of Chitwan and Bardia, are functioning normally. The world’s third-highest mountain Kangchenjunga was unaffected. Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu remained open throughout the critical weeks and most of the road network was left intact. The exception is the heavily used road into Tibet via Kodari, which remains closed and highly dangerous following fresh landslides triggered during the monsoon.
Gordon Steer of World Expeditionssays it will be operating most of its treks from September. “The FCO’s [previous] advice has had a impact. Bookings are down. However, we’ve been doing this for 40 years and we’re confident we can run our trips safely. We’re doing research in our most popular areas, including the Annapurna region and Everest. There was some damage in the Everest region, but many people will barely notice. We’re waiting to hear about Manaslu [the world’s eighth highest mountain]; the army is doing a survey. We won’t be going to places like Langtang and Rolwaling.”
The Langtang valley used to be Nepal’s third-busiest trekking destination, popular with independent “tea-house” trekkers and accessible by bus. But the valley suffered some of the worst destruction during the earthquake as a huge landslide swept off the peak of Langtang Lirung to bury the village below. Almost 400 people died, including about 60 trekkers. Despite the damage, and continuing landslides, a local relief agency is organising two volunteer treks in the autumn to Langtang, and a memorial trek has been scheduled for spring.
Half a million people in Nepal work in tourism, more than half of them women, and the World Travel and Tourism Council says that figure could have risen to 700,000 in the next decade. But a recently published post-disaster report commissioned by the government shows tourist numbers fell by 90% after the earthquake. It warns that the Nepali tourism industry could shrink this year by 40% from 2014 levels. There are fears that if visitors stay away more young people will be forced to leave the country to look for work elsewhere in Asia and in gulf states like Qatar, where migrant workers face abuse.
Trekker beneath Kangchenjunga.
The FCO’s initial travel warning made it difficult for tourists to find travel insurance for Nepal. Shiva Dhakal, owner of Royal Mountain Travel, one of Nepal’s biggest travel agencies, says: “Travel insurance is the major problem for us right now. Because of the negative travel advisory [previously] given by the UK government, travellers from the UK are scared.” The Guardian contacted 10 adventure travel insurance agents last week; all of them said they wouldn’t currently cover Nepal, though the British Mountaineering Council (thebmc.co.uk) is offering insurance for trekkers, including to Kathmandu, though only on a case-by-case basis to the most affected areas.
Nepal’s tourism industry is trying hard to reassure potential visitors and their governments. Hotels in Kathmandu have been surveyed, with 90% cleared to operate normally, including hotels in heritage buildings, like Patan’s recently restored The Inn. Several trekking agents have already carried out their own surveys while the Nepali organisation Samarth, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, has commissioned a report from specialist earthquake engineering firm Miyamoto to assess Nepal’s two most popular trekking regions, Annapurna and Everest. That report is due in the middle of July. Post-disaster reports suggest 150km of tourist trekking trails suffered significant damage.
While trekking and other adventure activities account for 40% of Nepal’s visitors, the remaining 60% come for the stunning cultural and religious heritage, which was badly damaged during the earthquakes. Almost all the World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley have now reopened despite strongly worded concerns about structural safety from Unesco itself.
Dhaulagiri and prayer flags at sunrise from Poon Hill, Ghorepani
Thomas Schrom is an Austrian conservation architect with 20 years’ experience in the Himalayas, having worked on the stunning Patan Museum, one of the finest in south Asia, housed in the exquisite Malla-era Keshav Narayan Chowk palace. “Here in Patan, it really doesn’t look too bad,” he says. “The collapsed temples have been cleaned up and the remnants stored. The square is open to visitors and so is the Patan Museum.” Recently developed methods for seismic strengthening, he says, have made a big difference.
Other famous sites in the valley, including Kathmandu’s Durbar Square andSwayambhunath, known as the Monkey Temple, fared worse; these are the places Unesco has singled as being of most concern. A safer option is to join the crowds of Tibetans and Sherpas at the vast stupa at Boudha in the east of the city, spinning prayer wheels at dusk. The only one of Kathmandu’s World Heritage Sites still closed is the temple complex at Changu Narayan.
Schrom, who has prepared a post-disaster assessment for Unesco, says more than 700 listed structures have been damaged, a fifth of them destroyed completely. The Department of Archaeology says it will need at least $100m to restore Nepal’s cultural heritage in the Kathmandu Valley and other affected districts but Schrom says that figure is an underestimate. Sites like Bhaktapur, the third of Kathmandu’s famous palace squares, will come back better than ever – and earthquake-proof. “What breaks my heart,” Schrom says, “are all the sweet little temples and houses in the back alleys that will be lost forever.”
Nepal has a reputation for being the ultimate destination for the adventurous and, as Gordon Steer says: “There’s always some risk attached. But the country has the biggest, most exciting mountains in the world coupled with the most wonderful culture. The people you meet along the way are incredible and you learn so much. It’s the best trekking on earth.”
Having been on a training ride on the day of the earthquake the mountain biking team set about rescuing people in Chobar
On the day a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal in April, the nation’s top mountain bikers were out preparing for the national championships.
They soon found themselves thrown into the emergency rescue effort, pulling victims alive out of the rubble.
In the aftermath of the disaster, which killed more than 7,500 people and injured more than 14,500, the cyclists found their riding skills invaluable.
They are still working to access remote mountain communities vehicles cannot.
Nepali national mountain bike champion, Ajay Pandit Chhetri, told BBC Radio 5 Live Daily he and his team mates were training on a single track in Chobar, about 10km north of the capital Kathmandu and close to the epicentre when the quake struck on 25 April.
The day job: Ajay Pandit Chhetri in the men’s cross-country final of the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea
“We were scared. We were nervous and thought about our families and friends around Nepal. The communication was disconnected,” he said.
The riders soon heard screams and dug out a woman and child who were buried alive.
They had been preparing for a national championship race scheduled for 2 May, but it was cancelled as the full extent of the humanitarian disaster in the country unfolded.
Riders helped a rescue team the afternoon after the earthquake in Kathmandu
A third of the population has been affected by the country’s worst natural disaster
Ajay Pandit Chhetri gives out aid in the team’s main project area in remote Shikhar Besi
Ajay Pandit Chhetri leads riders on their favourite single track on the way to help at a school in Bhimdhunga
They spent the first few days after the quake helping in Kathmandu.
Mr Chhetri, a former cycle mechanic who had been due to defend his title, said: “The bike is always valuable in Kathmandu but at that time it was even more valuable to get around, access remote areas and find out what help was needed.”
A picture of one of the team’s rescues is on the Nepal Cycling Association’s Facebook page. A user remarks: “This is why I love cyclists.”
Eight million people – a third of the population – have been affected by the country’s worst natural disaster and the UN has estimated three million are in need of food aid.
Nepal earthquake relief
needed for humanitarian relief
- 3 million people in need of food aid
- 130,000 houses destroyed
- 24,000 people living in makeshift camps
- 20 teams working to reunite lost children with their families
KATHMANDU: (PTI) Nepal on Thursday thanked India for its “tremendous assistance” and lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for playing an important role in ensuring that the quake-hit country gets back on its feet as soon as possible.
Nepal’s appreciation for Prime Minister Modi was conveyed by President Ram Baran Yadav to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj when she called on him here.
“The President was very appreciative of the tremendous assistance that India has rendered to Nepal in its hour of crisis. He specifically mentioned about the important role Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally played in ensuring that Nepal gets back on its feet as soon as possible,” External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
India had responded promptly after the quake struck Nepal, dispatching a large number of rescue teams, doctors and disaster relief experts. The Indian Air Force and the army had also deployed helicopters and transport aircraft for rescue effort and to reach relief.
Rescue workers from over 30 countries had come to Nepal to help the people affected by the quake, the country’s worst in more than 80 years, in which about 9,000 people were killed.
Earlier, Swaraj announced India’s pledge of USD one billion to Nepal for its massive reconstruction programme and asserted that it will strongly stand behind the Nepalese government in its hour of crisis.
Swaraj made the announcement during an international donors conference organised by the Nepalese government to raise funds for reconstruction programmes.
In the meeting with Yadav, the External Affairs Minister conveyed to him that that there was no need to thank India as it had offered its assistance as a neighbour.
“She said in times of distress, it is the neighbour who comes first. Relatives and friends come later,” Swarup said.
Swaraj had yesterday met Prime Minister Sushil Koirala during which she conveyed to him that India will provide “all possible assistance” to Nepal.
IndiaToday.in Kathmandu, June 25, 2015
7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. Photo: Reuters
Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Thursday sought aid at an international donors conference in Kathmandu to rebuild the country after it was hit by massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25.
Koirala sought donors’ help to rebuild the country at an estimated cost of $7 billion.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who attended the conference announced $1 billion for Nepal’s reconstruction. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and over 300 delegates from 60 nations were also present in the meeting.
“I am happy to announce India’s support for Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction. Need of the hour is to conceptualize a holistic recovery program that balances short-term requirements and long-term needs,” said Sushma Swaraj.
“PM Modi personally led our response for relief and rescue operations. Nepal has good wishes of many friends, India stands ready to help Nepal,” added External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The two-day conference is being organised by the Nepal government to raise funds to reconstruct infrastructures.
Diggers work at high altitude and in tough terrain in Nepal to clear landslides
Members of the donor community in earthquake-hit Nepal are concerned that the government is moving too fast with long-term reconstruction plans.
They say the needs of tens of thousands of people in remote areas remain unmet and should not be forgotten.
Nepal is hosting a major international donors conference on Thursday aimed at securing foreign aid to rebuild everything destroyed in the 25 April earthquake.
A UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said donors had used a formal diplomatic procedure known as a demarche, to tell the government directly of their concerns.
UN figures show nearly 45,000 households in far-flung mountainous regions are waiting for urgent supplies like tarpaulins and medicines.
It’s an acute need with monsoon rains under way.
Counting the cost
needed by Nepal to rebuild
of Nepal’s GDP wiped out
- 8,832 people died
- 500,000 homes destroyed
- 2.8m people affected
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be among a host of leaders who will attend an international donor conference here for reconstruction efforts following the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in April.
Besides Swaraj, foreign ministers from China and Norway, finance ministers from Bhutan and Bangladesh and disaster management minister from Sri Lanka have confirmed their participation in the international conference, Nepalese finance minister Ram Shara Mahat said today.
Nepal had initially invited PM Narendra Modi to attend the conference.
President of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, vice-president of the World Bank, president of Japan International Technical Cooperation (JAICA), commissioner of the European Union and the UN deputy general secretary of the United Nations have also confirmed their participation.
So far, 53 countries and international agencies have confirmed their participation and 239 representatives are attending the conference.
The theme of the conference is ‘Towards Resilient Nepal’ which will be inaugurated by Koirala, who will pitch for commitments from governments to rebuild his country.
The Nepal government has prepared a Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA) involving nearly USD 7 billion or about NRs 706 billion for revival of the country from the disaster.
Of the total cost of reconstruction, NRs 517 billion or 76 per cent represents the value of destroyed assets and NRs 189 billion or 24 per cent represents the losses and extra cost of production of goods and services arising from the disaster, says the PDNA prepared by the National Planning Commission.
Nepal will not only seek grant assistance, but we will also welcome soft loans, technical assistance, recommendations and suggestions as well as sharing experiences from the international community during the one-day conference, said Mahat.
Nearly one million people have been pushed into poverty due to the quake. The government’s estimate has put the need for reconstruction and rebuilding of the country at USD 6.66 billion, Mahat said.
Mahat said that the reconstruction and rebuilding works will be complete within five years.
He said all preparations are in the final stage for convening the international meeting.