Light. Blinding light. The rude awakening of every light blaring on after a night long power outage was how many of the team members were rustled from their slumber. After a delectable Nepali breakfast and brief team meeting, the group took off after Ganga–like a line of ducklings following their mother–to the Padma schoolground tent camp. The leader of the camp, Robin, shared that at one point after the earthquake there were 3,000 people being harbored in the camp (3,000 people that Robin cooked all the meals for 2 months in a row). After touring the camp and convening with Robin, we learned that the biggest problem facing the camp was the abundance of elderly people staying in the camp and the lack of blankets available to keep them warm. We also learned that Robin’s own mother lived in the neighborhood and was living in her house that had collapsed. A short walk and a few “namaste’s” later, the team was welcomed into the shell of Robin’s mother’s home. With no roof and only the crumbling walls to protect her, the elderly woman was forced to take shelter under tarps and old boards.
The next destination was a collection of three camps nestled side-by-side. Upon walking through, the team was met with a woman who had survived two earthquakes. The first earthquake had been in 1934 and, as she recalled, had been equivalent if not more damaging than the most recent earthquake. We attracted a crowd as the women shared her experiences in front of the camera with the translation help of Ganga.
After visiting several more camps and eating a quick lunch ,the team was back at it again, visiting a fifth camp that was positioned in an old park. After speaking to the leader, we learned that several of the tents were not occupied. The leader was unwilling to move or sell the tents for fear of another disaster occurring. A concern for this community though, as well as the others, was that the lease on the public land that was home to the camps was going to come to a close in the coming year or two. The question that lay heavy on all of the camp leader’s minds was the fate of the residents of the tent camps after the leases expired.
Contemplating what could be done, the team shared thoughts and experiences of the day over dinner. Following the warm meal, the team was met by the warm hearts and company of several Nepali intellectuals at a birthday celebration at our friend Bishwo’s home. Good conversation, food, and drink helped the team finish out the night in traditional Nepali fashion.