By Michel Rooijackers, Team Leader for the first six weeks of Save the Children’s Nepal Earthquake response and previously Response Team Leader for Typhoon Haiyan.
One month ago news broke of a devastating earthquake in Nepal. Less than two weeks ago another large earthquake rocked this already reeling country.
Fast-forward to today and life in Kathmandu is largely returning to normal. Shops and restaurants are open, people are bustling about and the city is buzzing.
However, signs of the quakes’ impact are everywhere. Damaged buildings and rubble, cracked roads, people camping in tents in displacement centres and even public parks and of course, the aftershocks.
As you move further outside of the city the impact becomes more visible. Entire villages destroyed; homes, schools and businesses levelled.
Meeting the monsoon challenge
My biggest concern is the impending monsoon season. The incessant rain will simultaneously increase the vulnerability of children while making it more difficult for us to reach them.
To mitigate this, our team is operating at full tilt.
Tarpaulins, shelter kits, kitchen items and food are all essential to keeping families healthy and safe during the months of rain. Trucks and planes are arriving everyday with more supplies and they’re quickly getting into the hands of families who desperately need them.
New lives – safely delivered
Our medical teams have treated over 1,000 patients and continue to expand their work; just yesterday they established a Birthing Unit that will provide women a safe and sanitary place to give birth under the care of skilled health workers.
Two mothers arrived and went into labor hours after we opened. I’m happy to report both they and their newborns are doing well.
We have completed our first Temporary Learning Centres and getting children back-to-school ahead of the government mandated start date. This is essential to not just to get them back on track with their education, but also to help them cope with the traumatic experience of the earthquake and aftershocks.
In the interim our Child Friendly Spaces have provided children with a safe place to play, access support and build on their natural resilience.
This morning I visited a remote village high up in the Himalayas where we’ve built more than 120 new toilets in less than a week. The community is thrilled to have these dignifying, and lifesaving, utilities available to them again.
The aid community has responded well, sending money, supplies and expertise to provide lifesaving need to children and families.
I’m in awe with the amount of adversity our team has fought through, most especially the Nepali who have rallied to aid their countrymen. With the monsoon approaching, followed by winter, we must keep these children at the forefront of our minds.
We are facing a race against the rains.
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