Today I am up on the Sunkoshi River near the Tibetan border just an hour car drive north of Kathmandu. Here two weeks ago a large monsoon landslide crashed into the river and completely blocked the flow of water, backing that water up and transforming the valley into a large lake that covered three villages and the one main road that connects China with Nepal.
A local NGO, called Mukti, and our company, Five14, went with a jeep filled with rice, beaten rice & other foods and clothing to the emergency drop off point near the disaster site. As I met local dignitaries, like Army officers, County District Officer, head Lamas and some young NGO employees crunching the donation numbers on their laptops, we registered our jeep load of goods and unloaded it with the muscle power of the local police.
It really had the sense of an expression of civic pride that all were participating to help these folks who have lost neighbors and homes.
The Chief District Officer requested that we come up the road and see for ourselves the newly formed lake and the engineering work that was in progress.
A specific need was pointed out to me by the ladies that run the local community development committee.
They said, “That spot you are standing on now, this is where we want to rebuild the school” as I was planting my feet on solid footing next to the surging river that was pouring out onto the man-made channel that was relieving the backed up flood water.
They already anticipated the movement of development projects that potentially could get started within the month. It was quite a display of development of Nepali culture that has been inculcated into the norm of daily thinking and life in Nepal.
Then the ladies began to divulge their theories on the cause of the landslide. The local people had started killing the snakes along the fields and banks of the Sunkoshi, in fact they even were killing the baby snakes even though they were too small to have food value- so retribution of the gods.
Another theory came from rumors of people coming to visit the local shrines and cutting a cow and pouring its blood on an idol.
The ladies leaned forward over my seat as I was driving to the landslide site, with full expressions of veracity on their neatly tikka’d faces. What surprised me was that they were clearly the more educated and moneyed of their community.
So, first world disaster relief was in full swing in the midst of a land of ancient pagan beliefs.
Through the efforts of Five14 to be involved, we have met some good people and made key contacts for future work in the district as we continue to make strides to impact the plague of exploitation in Nepal.