Another brisk Nepali morning welcomed the Invictus team into being. After a delicious Nepali breakfast at the lodge, the team headed back to the cluster of three tent camps that we visited the day before in an attempt to meet with one of the team leaders. We learned about the heartbreaking story of a family whose house had collapsed during the earthquake last April, killing the mother and father and leaving three children to live in the collapsed house by themselves.
As Ganga shared the story with the team, a group of children started to swarm the group. Tree climbing and an epic game of soccer ensued. Despite the high levels of devastation that have been surrounding the team the past few days, the spirit of the children has managed to ring out an optimistic note in an overwhelming song of despair.
Many of the team members were sad to see the soccer game come to an end as the buses ready to take the team into the nearby mountain communities arrived. Packed eight to a car, the team was bumped and bustled up mountain roads to the Dalit and Pokharel Gaon communities. The abundance of livestock helped paint a more hopeful picture for each community. After speaking with two of the community leaders, we learned that the people in the area were quickly rebuilding what they had lost. As it turns out, the members of these communities were actually financially well off compared to most of the others we had visited, stating that either with or without the assistance of their government or outside NGOs, they would be back to the lifestyle they were accustomed to prior to the earthquakes within the next year or two. Our time spent with the community members really helped illustrate how all classes have been affected by the earthquakes–rich or poor, disasters do not choose sides.
The most powerful interview conducted came from a local 11-year-old boy who was in his grandparent’s home at the time of the earthquake. When asked if he was scared when the earthquake hit he replied, “No, I was just thinking about saving my little brother.” His 8-year-old brother, who was able to survive the earthquake due to his older brothers efforts, stood close by as his older brother shared their story.
Upon further dialogue, we were informed that the community in the worst condition and in the most need lay over the ridge from the Kathmandu valley. One of the community members shared that he was willing to set up a meeting for the team with the leaders of that community to try and learn their needs and whether our skills and resources could be of use to them.
Reluctant to leave, the team again found themselves smashed into the back of two cars and bumping down the mountain roads toward Bhaktupur.
After lunch, the team met with Robin, the leader of the Padma School tent camp again. Our communications since the last visit had uncovered that they were in need of emergency blankets for the elderly people of the community. Armed with over 500 emergency blankets, the team set off to distribute some of those blankets to Robin to disperse amongst the people in his community. When working within each tent camp, in addition to reinforcing our relationships first approach, the team makes sure to conduct all relief work through the community leaders, supporting and respecting their role within each of their communities.
The rest of the day was spent exploring some of the city, visiting some shops, making connections with possible community contacts and enjoying some tea and coffee at a local coffee house.
An early turn in and good night’s rest closed out the night for the still jet lagged Invictus team.