It is now clear that the April 25 and following May 12 earthquakes that hit Nepal have created one of the worst disasters to ever strike the country. Over 8,500 people have lost their lives and more than double that number have been injured. Thousands of family breadwinners are out of work with international tourism down to a trickle. But there is hope.
Smiling Albino sent one of their Bangkok-based team members into Kathmandu last week to ascertain the situation on the ground and help formulate a long-term plan of assistance for the battered country. We managed to send 130 kilograms of medical equipment and supplies with him as well as donated cash to help a free school for Himalayan children and our own team and guides in Nepal. What he found was enlightening.
The spirit of the Nepalese is shining bright. Local businesses, schools, monasteries and individuals have pulled together to help those affected. The School we visited, Shree Mangal Dvip School, was organising with the help of donations, trucks and helicopters to take in tons of needed materials to identified villages that had yet to receive any assistance three weeks after the quake.
The city of Kathmandu is relatively intact. Despite seeing reports on the news of the damage of the buildings in Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the capital is functioning as chaotically as it was before. There are actually less power outages. Certain areas of the city were harder hit than others, it is estimated 30% of the city’s buildings will need to be pulled down and rebuilt, yet 90% of the hotels in the Kathmandu Valley are safe and operating.
Some of Nepal’s famous trekking areas have been disrupted by avalanches. Parts of Langtang and Everest will take some time to clear. However, out of 10 National Parks, only one has been affected. There are still many breathtaking areas around the country that were untouched and provide pristine adventures.
The government has responded haphazardly. Corruption and mismanagement has delayed relief supplies getting into the country and being distributed to those in need. Nevertheless, pressure from the people and international aid organizations is persuading the government to start moving in the right direction .
The best way one can help Nepal rebuild is to visit yourself. The Nepalese are a friendly and hospitable people ready to welcome guests. The benefits of travelling to Nepal, both for guests and locals, have never been greater than now. We have some awesome (in the true definition of the word) adventures planned for this year. In the spirit of meaningful travel, take this unique opportunity and enquire here.