Once arriving in the villages or in some cases, where the roads to the villages were too badly damaged for vehicles, near the villages, the first thing seen is a line up of local people. They are all waiting patiently for us to arrive. Well, as patiently as you could when you haven’t eaten for four days. When all your hard earned food was destroyed. The food that took months to grow and harvest; that literally took blood, sweat and tears.
The earthquake destroyed their stored food, seeds and often killed their animals. The animals, goats, chickens, ox and buffalo, usually lived under villagers houses. The animals had the ground floor while the locals lived above. Therefore, when the house collapsed, for many people, the rubble landed on top of their animals; killing them.
When I got out of the bus, waiting for the second truck to arrive with more relief, I walked past the line, stopping and speaking to the locals. Granted, our conversations were mostly hugs, some tears and them telling me their stories in Nepalese. They knew that I didn’t understand but it was simply someone taking the time out and listening.
Looking at their faces, the distress and fear was evident. The obvious question on their minds was ‘What are we going to do?’ For me, who has no idea what village life is like, how on earth was I supposed to comfort them? There was nothing I could say or do. It would be easy for me to say: you need to start rebuilding your lives. Make sure your crops don’t die. It’ll get better. But the hopelessness in their eyes and the extreme loss they had suffered; I said nothing but just hugged them.
On one of the trips, where we couldn’t get to the village, I was told that it was a half an hour walk up to this village. I have driven down the path since, once the road was fixed, and it would take me longer than half an hour to walk down, let alone walk up the steep, rocky, dusty and uneven mountainside. If you don’t trip on the loose roads, you’ll probably slip due to the combination of dust and steepness. Now, the villagers had to the walk up this mountain with a 25kg bag of rice on their back. I can hardly lift up one of the bags.
In the wake of losing everything; houses, animals, possessions and even loved ones, struggling with their own fears, these villagers showed tremendous strength and courage. They are truly inspiring! I am so blessed that I was able to be apart of their journey in some small way.
If you would like to help with the development efforts currently being undertaken in Nepal Please check out Tahlia’s project.
Tahlia Van De Beld is currently working in Nepal with Metamorphic.