Bengaluru : The Project Vision- Bangalore Cares for Nepal

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Today is the most satisfying day for the earthquake relief work in Nepal. We build the first model shelter for the leprosy patients’ colony in the outskirts of Kathmandu. Fifty families who were completely abandoned by the society were settled in the Budaneelkanda village about 10 kilometres in the outskirts of Kathmandu since 20 years, most of them affected by leprosy. All the 250 odd persons, many with severe deformities, were forced to stay outdoors since the April 25 earthquake brought down many of the houses and made the rest of them unlivable.

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Going to Budaneelakanda village after seeing a report in a newspaper from Mumbai, we found them totally shattered. Twenty five days of living in the open had created huge questions about the future as the first rains of monsoon had already arrived. Our first visit last Saturday made us convinced that our intervention was most needed here. Sunday was spent with the Shanthi Seva Griha that facilitated the settling down of these families here. We worked out a program to collaborate with Mrs Mary Ann and team that headed Shanthi Seva Griha.

Gathering nine pieces of 12/3 corrugated sheets, four bent iron pipes of 20 ft length and plenty of steel wire to tie the top costly around Rs. 10,000, a team of volunteers under the leadership of Mr Rajan and Sunil, landed around noon in the village. Myself along with Fr Raphael Raj cmf, Mr Jose from Aifo and Fr Antony from ECHO, were with the community to prepare them for the construction of the first tin roof semi permanent houses that measure 12 feet length and 10 ft width and with 8 feet height. The idea was that one house comes up, everyone will follow.

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No one took us seriously in the first one hour, when the iron rods were bent and the measurement taken for the location of the house. But when the iron rods were fixed and the first tin roof sheet was raised , the entire village was around to witness the place that can save them from the rainy season. Two hours later the house was inaugurated. When we told them that such houses could be made for all the fifty families, there was a huge applause. On providing the materials, the carpenters in the village promised to build it on their won. Fifty houses will come up in the next 10 days.

While the money for the 50 tin roof houses (Rs. 500,000) was provided by Bangalore Cares for Nepal, the technical support is provided by Yogdan organisation’s Mr Athulya and Poonam.Two days ago, as we were returning from a field visit to the Budaneelakantha village in the outskirts of Kathamandu in a car, we saw that everyone was running out of their houses and shops. First we just could understand what was happening. It took some time to realize that it was an earthquake. It was one of the over 300 aftershocks the country experienced that was measured 5.7 scale. There was not a day without an aftershock being reported. Many of them happen in the early hours of the day and people run out of the house to stay out the rest of the night.

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Aftershocks have not deterred the efforts of the relief and aid workers in Nepal. The members of Bangalore Cares for Nepal, a platform created by The Project Vision has been visiting several villages in the outskirts of Kathamandu sine the third day of earthquake on the 25th of April. Even after 20 days, the people had received practically nothing. Most of the houses were either fully gone or damaged. The people don’t feel confident to live inside due the continuous aftershocks. They were all seen trying to build a temporary shed for them with whatever they could gather – bamboo, plastic sheets, tarpaulins and clothes. They definitely wont stand the ravages of the heavy monsoon here. The afternoon witnessed rain that made everyone worried – they cant stay in the open anymore.

Fr George Kannanthanam, a Claretian priest from Bangalore along with Mr Jose Manikathan who coordinates the activities of the AIFO organization in India, visited every house in the village and listened to their earthquake experiences. They were happy that no one died in the village, despite about 9000 deaths all over Nepal.

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Bangalore cares for Nepal brought light to five villages by providing solar panel and battery in the remote areas of Kathmandu. They were seeing light for the first time after the earthquake. The villages were completely cut off from their relatives and friends since their phones had run out of power. Hundreds of villagers charged their mobiles to get in touch with their beloved people through this.

As the death toll touches about 9000 in Nepal, a team consisting of Fr George Kannanthanam and Sibu George has been involved with relief work since Tuesday (27-05-2015) . Fr George, is the Director of “The Project Vision”, a Bangalore based NGO. Fr George was involved with relief work for tsunami in Tamil Nadu in 2005 and for the floods in Karnataka in 2009.

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Bangalore cares for Nepal is an initiative from The Project Vision that has brought together various persons and organizations to work for the earthquake victims in Nepal. Many agencies and individuals are part of it like Claretians, ROTARY INTERNATIONAL, SUMANAHALLI SOCIETY, ECHO, AIFO, Kolor Koncepts, ROTARY CLUB, WORLD MALAYALEE COUNCIL, INDIAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, PROCLADE, MANOS UNIDAS, REACH TO TEACH, ELROY CHITS (P) LTD, AND OTHERS.

Fr George and team provided tarpaulin for shelter, medicines and food for the affected people. 2000 tarpaulins were provided by Mr Pradeep, Kolor Koncepts, sourced from Delhi at a cost of Rs. 500,000 and sent across the border. Water purifying tablets were distributed that was of great help because earthquake has made water contaminated in most places. One lakh rupees worth of materials were distributed in the first two days. Talking to the affected persons and providing them hope at this moment is a great relief in itself. Materials have been sourced from Kolkotta and Delhi in India since they were not available in Nepal.

Five villages out of the city of Kathmandu for relief work since most of the agencies are concentrating on the city. They were able to reach out to five villages in five different districts which are more than two hours journey from the city. They are Khawa in Panchkhaal District (180 families), Vurumuchuli in Lalithpur(50), Ittakhel in Sankhu (150) and Phostar Village in Dhading District (40). A larger village called Tipling with 500 families about 130 kilometres by vehicle and 30 hours of walk to reach Tipling away in the District of Dhading which is also taken for our work. Thus totally about 1000 families are helped for relief work.

Affected families will be given a “shelterbox” consisting of 51 items like tarpaulin, plates, dress, soap and so on. They are brought from Kolkata at a cost of Rs. 5000 each. They will also be helped with a temporary shelter at a cost of Rs. 5000. Thus the cost of relief for one family is Rs. 10,000. An amount of one crore is required for this stage of relief and temporary settlement for 1000 families, which we are mobilizing from donations and grants.Bangalore Cares for Nepal will ensure that all the relief and rehabilitation work will be done directly with the affected people. Volunteers are already in the field and local NGOs have offered their support.

During our stay at Kathmandu we ran out of our house at 3 am on the very first day due to an earthquake that measured 4.2 and followed by 5.1 at a nearby district. It was fearful to get back to the house. This is how most people are living there. Most of them are staying in the open places with rain and cold. A candle light prayer was conducted at the Maithy Ghar ( Mother’s House) square on 2nd May 2015 where all the mourning citizens offered their prayers for the dead. It was an emotional moment to participate in that.

Bangalore cares for Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding with Mr. Rabindra Piya, Rotary International – 3292, District Governor, Kathmandu, for jointly building permanent houses for the shelterless. For every one house that we donate money for, the Rotary will raise money for two more houses from their matching grant from Rotary International. One house with 250 sq ft built area will be constructed at a cost of Rs. 200,000 which will be earthquake resistant. The houses could be built in the name of the donor.

Fr George held discussions also with Bishop Paul Simick of Nepal and discussed possibilities of working together on rehabilitation. A wide network of contacts have been established with various religious and social groups for the relief work like Caritas and Nepal Jesuit Society. A meeting was organized last Saturday (09-05-2015) at Ashirvad in Banglaore, to share the ground reality of the earthquake and to present the draft plan for rehabilitation and look at ways of working together for this cause. About 25 persons from different organizations decided to work together for relief and rehabilitation work.

Those who would like to contribute may get the details from and facebook / bangalorecaresfornepal. Money could be transferred to: Bank Account Name: Project Vision, Name of the Bank: South Indian Bank, 15th Cross, Malleswaram, Bangalore. Bank Account Number:0279053000018410, IFSC Code: SIBL0000279

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