Adopt a Village – A journey to Laprak, Nepal and Self-help Aid Program

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Hope for the future.

 

Admittedly this is my first time to implement a self-help Aid Program of this scale. I have in the past contributed to Institutional Aid Programs but due to its effectiveness and sometimes controversies, I have decided to implement a self-help aid program with a community of friends and well-wishers. I have personally gone down to the ground to see first-hand on how aid is dispensed and how to implement it effectively.

Journey to Laprak Village, Nepal
Laprak village is one of the two villages that were at the epicentre of the 7.9 Richter scale earthquake that struck Nepal on 25th April 2015. The other was Barpak. Laprak village was destroyed, most of the houses collapsed forcing residents to seek higher and safer ground. The villagers have split into 4 to 5 locations, the largest settlement is about 3,000 residents at a relatively flat land at about 2,700m.

Crossing the streams

Crossing the streams

Some of the houses destroyed by the earthquake

Some of the houses destroyed by the earthquake

The dirt tracks leading to Laprak

The dirt tracks leading to Laprak

My journey started with a flight to Kathmandu from Kuala Lumpur on 19th June 2015 with Mr Paul Sack. In Kathmandu, we met other Nepali friends who shared the same goal as us in helping Laprak village. We arranged a 4×4 jeep to transport us to Laprak Village, a journey that would take 12 hours.

On the 21st morning, at 6 am our rented jeep picked us up from the hotel. We drove for about six hours on sealed roads. Upon reaching Phinamtar, the roads turned to dirt tracks. We had to cross a few shallow streams as there were no bridges. I believe when the river level rises, these streams are impassable. The track follows the Daraudi River till Rangrung. From there it takes the right turn to Mandrel and Laprak. The journey on this dirt track took another six hours. By the time, we reached Laprak it was about 6:30 pm.

It was very misty as we approached Laprak

It was very misty as we approached Laprak

It was drizzling when we reached Laprak and was immediately taken to our quarters, a 4-man tent where five of us would call home for the next 3 nights.

Overview
The villagers have moved out of Laprak and are now separated into 4 to 5 groups. The largest group of about 3,000 residents have located to 2,700m. This area is relatively flat (in mountain terrain terms).

Laprak new village in at sunrise

Laprak new village in at sunrise

The only restaurant and hangout place in Laprak

The only restaurant and hangout place in Laprak

Villagers line up for water at the only source in the village

Villagers line up for water at the only source in the village

The water flow is not promising.

The water flow is not promising.

Presently the whole village looks like a refugee settlement with temporary colourful tents springing up sporadically.

The villagers waiting patiently for thier turn to fill up their containers.

The villagers waiting patiently for thier turn to fill up their containers.

The kids at the village

The kids at the village

A little girl

A little girl

Mother and her kid

Mother and her kid

The main problem with this area is that there is not enough water supply for all their needs. Presently, the water source can only supply 8 lit. / person. With the monsoon and more efficient collection methods from this spring source, the supply will be increased to 18 lit / person. The ideal is to achieve 45 lit. / person in order to take care of all consumption and hygienic needs. The electrical supply has not reached this area and it will take some time before the Govt can install the electrical supply to this area.

Sanitation facilities is still an ongoing exercise. Presently there are only 50 toilets serving 3,000 residents.

Temporary shelter in progress

Temporary shelter in progress

A little boy

A little boy

The Govt has constructed a dirt track to this area to facilitate the transport of materials, food and medicine. They have just contributed 16 sheets of 8ft long cgi roofing sheets per registered household when we were there.

Institutional Aid vs Individual Self-help Aid
When we were in Laprak, we noticed there were only two Institutional Aid Organisation there, OXFAM and CARE Nepal. OXFAM was responsible for the water supply infrastructure and sanitation. So far, they have constructed 50 toilets and have laid a water pipe from a spring to the village.

CARE Nepal was stationed in Barpak and was responsible to distribute cgi sheets and food donated by the Nepali Govt.

A medical post mended by two nurses, Amanda and Kumari. We stocked up the required medicine for this medical post about two weeks ago.

A medical post mended by two nurses, Amanda and Kumari. We stocked up the required medicine for this medical post about two weeks ago.

A local villager spliting bamboo for weaving the walls.

A local villager splitting bamboo for weaving the walls.

Some of villagers have actually worked in Malaysia

Some of villagers have actually worked in Malaysia and can speak some Bahasa.

Other Institutional Aid Organisations do not have any representatives there but drop in occasionally to distribute food, clothing, etc. Some of the time, the aid provided was mismatched as they do not have any idea on what is really required at the village.

As an Individual self-help Aid program, we have two representatives staying on site coordinating with the locals and understanding what they need. Our two representatives were Santi Viveencharras, a Spanish Mechanical Engineer and Karen, a New Zealander writer. They have been staying in Laprak for a while and will continue to stay there for some time.

Overall, we are no match to large organisations but, while we are lacking in strength, we make up with an on-time and efficient delivery of the most needed items. For example, we have managed to stock up the medical posts with the much-needed medicines and have delivered cgi sheets ahead of the Institutional Aid.

This is how the village looks like at the present moment. Many will be building semi permanent structures with the cgi roofing sheets donated by us and the Govt of Nepal.

This is how the village looks like at the present moment. Many will be building semi permanent structures with the cgi roofing sheets donated by us and the Govt of Nepal.

We are now cooperating with CARE Nepal to provide cgi sheets to families who are not or could not register with the Govt. for eg, single mum or elderly people staying alone.

I would not like to go into the politics of aid programs. You can read about it in other published articles. Yes, it exists.

Overall, there is a place for Individual self-help Aid groups to work together with Institutional Aids organisations. Recently the number of Individual self-help groups are increasing. We have also met a few self-help groups in Barpak who were interested to work with us. For any Individual self-help group to succeed, they must have a liaison person staying on site who is able to have the trust of the residents.

Projects that we are undertaking
We have the blessings of the residents to implement three projects.

1. A Guesthouse with facilities to accommodate about 8 guests in four rooms This is very necessary if we are to send volunteers to Laprak to help out in the recovery phase. Presently, all volunteers stay in tents with no sanitary and bathing facilities. We did not bathe the whole four days we were there. The toilets were about 50 metres away and were shared with the army personnel. The construction of the guesthouse has commenced and should be completed by next week when the hardware, sanitary fittings etc which we have purchased last week would arrive.

Commencing the construction for the guesthouse.

Commencing the construction for the guesthouse.

On the spot volunteer. Putting my construction skills to the test.

On the spot volunteer. Putting my construction skills to the test.

2. Nursery School. There are about 100 kids attending the Nursery School. Presently these nursery kids are housed in tents. Many aid organisations have committed to build the primary and secondary schools. We will start the construction of this Nursery school as soon as we have completed the guesthouse.

Donating stionery like colour pencils, books, pencils, rubber and sharpeners on behalf of Adopt a Village.

Donating stionery like colour pencils, books, pencils, rubber and sharpeners on behalf of Adopt a Village.

The Nursery teacher helps out. There is a lack of nursery teachers there.

The Nursery teacher helps out. There is a lack of nursery teachers there.

The primary and secondary schools are housed in tents.

The primary and secondary schools are housed in tents.

Some of the older kids at school

Some of the older kids at school

There is also a private nursery school where the teachers charged 350 rupees (15 ringgit) a month. The children here are more discipline and well mannered

There is also a private nursery school where the teachers charged 350 rupees (15 ringgit) a month. The children here are more disciplined and well mannered

The site for the Nursery School

The site for the Nursery School

3. Community and Memorial building

Laprak has a long history of culture. They hold colourful annual festivals. The villagers have a long-term plan to promote this village to visitors once they have recovered from the earthquake. Laprak will be the starting point for those who want to trek to Manaslu base camp. There are also few short two or three-day treks around the Himalayan from this village.

The site for the Community centre overlooking the helipad.

The site for the Community centre overlooking the helipad.

The group responsible for the building of this community centre together with the local counterparts. On the extreme left is Mr Santi our co-ordinator and next to him is Karen from New Zealand.

The group responsible for the building of this community centre together with our local counterparts. On the extreme left is Mr Santi our coordinator and next to him is Karen from New Zealand.

This community building provides space for the elders to pass down traditional dances and rituals to the younger generation.

The community building will also house a photography collage and permanent exhibition of photos from photographers who have taken photos before, during and after the earthquake. This is for the remembrance of this tragic event so that the future generations will appreciate what their forefathers have gone through.

I am so touched by this little girl. After we visited her school, she picked a bunch of leaves and gave to me nad Paul as a token of appreciation.

I was so touched by this little girl. After we visited her school, she picked a bunch of leaves and gave to me and Paul as a token of appreciation. It took a lot of effort for me to hold back my tears. Thank you, girl, you made my day. Our efforts are all worth while.

Volunteers required
All the construction and hardware works are carried out by employing skilled local labour. Volunteers are required to provide the software part – like teaching English, art, craft, music and other soft skills to the Nursery kids aged 3 to 6 years old.

Volunteers are also required to teach commercial crafts to the womenfolk at the community hall so as to increase the income of the people.

Volunteers need to be there for a minimum stay of two weeks. They have to provide their own airfares to and from Kathmandu. All transport, accommodation and food in Nepal will be provided for by the self-help aid groups.

If you are interested to volunteer your services, please contact Maxby Chan.

 

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  1. Dear Maxby

    I am writing on behalf of the Kobarid Alpine Club (Gamsi) based in Slovenia.

    They are very keen to come out and volunteer with you from the 22nd October to 10th November 2015.

    They have been planning to come out to Laprak for the past six months and have booked their tickets and have raised quite some funds to help with the reconstruction.

    However, it has now come to light that the “Nepali” organiser of their trip is not really interested in doing anything other than charging them vast sums of money to transport and house them there, and that as of yet has no concrete plans for what work they would actually be doing to help.

    I came across your website and it would seem that the projects you are working on, are exactly the same as the types they were hoping to do.

    he group is comprised on 19 people who are all professional people in their mid-30s to 40s in excellent health who are used to rough mountain conditions – several are fully trained mountain rescuerers here in Slovenia.

    The group is not without skills in the builidng/renovating field – several members work in this field here in Slovenia. There is a building engineer, 2 carpenters, 3 roofing specialists, 4 general construction workers (cement work etc). Other members include a pharmacist, chef and several people who run adventure sports companies here in town. Also, the owner of a bed and breakfast and the local campground will be coming. So, they could also provide assistance in developing tourism in the area once the reconstruction is done.

    They would be very self sufficient and wouldn’t need a lot of hand holding. They all are experienced travellers and can live without creature comforts…and they have seen the photo’s of your camp so know what to expect.

    If they came, they would bring everything they need with them from Katmandu for living, so as not to burden the local population in anyway.

    As for working, they would naturally take your advice, as to how they could best help with the reconstruction.

    They have raised some €10,000 to help pay for the materials (and transport) above and beyond their own living and transport costs. And, would be only too grateful if this money could be spent helping the people in this region rebuild their lives.

    The main organiser, Miroslav Tonkli (who likes to go by the name Tonkli) will be coming out to Katmandu, earlier than the main group on ¸16th October. So, he would have a week to organise the purchasing of supplies and how to transport them and the group up to Laprak. He has a couple of Nepali friends who can help him with this.

    If you are interested could you please let me know as soon as possible.

    Please be assured that this offer of assistance is very genuine and the group will be coming out on the 21st of October if FlyDubai is still flying out to Katmandu at this time.

    If whatever reason, you aren’t able to host the Gamsi group of volunteers at this time, if you know of any other village in the area who could use their assistance it would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,

    Marie Egan
    (A Canadian who has been to Nepal many times and loves the country and her people)

  2. maxby
    Author

    Thank you for your message. I have already sent you an email. If you have not received it let me know.

  3. Marcie WhalenI needed to hear these words today, Marcy. I’ve been doing the same thing. I will work on being still and wanitig patiently for God. I’m so proud of you! Enjoy every minute of your awesome experience there!

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