A north east Fife woman, who runs a charity in Nepal, has spoken of the difficulties faced by Nepali people trying to rebuild their communties in the wake of April’s devastating earthquake.
Jackie Taylor said that while aid is getting through more still needs to be done to help affected areas as some people are still without food and shelter.
Since 2010 Jackie has run the Palpa Trust from her home in Kemback. Her charity, which is supported by St Andrews hairdresser Sophie Butler and Cupar Rotary Club, helps many schools in the rural Palpa district with structural improvements, meeting teachers’ salaries, funding sports equipment, and supplying books for libraries as well as covering the cost of other neccessities.
The Trust uses funds for those needing medical assistance and is involved in drinking water projects for both communities and schools across the area.
Although the Palpa area was not as badly affected by the earthquake which devastated Kathmandu, at its epicentre, the knock-on effect on the country’s infrastructure has been significant.
Jackie said the remote village of Barpark has been decimated since the earthquake and the Palpa Trust has now turned its attention to helping people there.
She said: “ Barpak is a truly remote village situated in a truly beautiful location 1900m above sea level, consisting of 1200 homes with a population of about 4500. That is, it was prior to April 25.
“Now of those houses only 10 per cent remain relatively undamaged as this is near where the huge 7.8 Richter scale earthquake had its epicentre, the shock waves tended to move westwards towards Kathmandu valley where there was also a great deal of damage and overall 8700 lives were lost in this natural disaster.
“Barpak village is just 43 kilometres west of Gorkha which is really the fount of Nepal, where in the middle of the 18th Century Prithvi Narayan Shah began the unification of all the small kingdoms and autonomous states into what is present day Nepal. The people here were renowned for their courage and martial prowess leading to the name being used for the Gurkha regiments of today. There was a wonderful Shah palace built some 400 years ago on a hill top with fantastic views of the Himalaya, especially Manaslu (8163m), which now lies in ruins. It is in such a dangerous state that local people are afraid to enter the temple for religious purposes.”
Jackie went on to say that when she and Ravi, her friend and Palpa Trust partner, trekked to Barpak a few years ago it was little visited by western trekkers, but the local development committee has recently embarked on a Home Stay scheme offering accommodation and an experience enjoyed by few who trek on the popular trekking routes.
She said: “The houses are built of stone and mud with stone slate roofs and perched along a ridge. We approached from the west, not on a regular trek route, so when we asked locals we met on the way how many hours to Barpak they would look at me and say ‘maybe two or three for you, for us 30 minutes!’.
The next people we met said ‘Oh, just one hour’, we never got a definitive answer, but arrive we did and were made welcome.
“I was curious about the woollen cape I saw a gentleman wearing and was told it was made in the village, traditionally used to keep warm as well as dry. Self sufficiency is an absolute must because although our approach was not the normal way in that there is no vehicular road on any approach, although a track is being developed and will allow transport to ply the route but only outside monsoon time.
“The roads become impassable very quickly even with small amounts of rain but now, since the earthquake and in monsoon time, there are many landslides to cope with. The ground has been very much disturbed by the quake and become extremely unstable, remember Everest has moved three centimetres to the south west.
“Because of the remoteness of Barpak any aid was very slow to get through, the nearest access point on the Darondi Khola (river) is seven to eight hours trek away up the steep eroded track. Everything has to be carried in a doko or basket with a namlo securing the load around the head.”
Jackie wenton to say that from the news she has been able to acquire, she understands there are still people without proper shelter.
She said: “Ravi tells me that with money and food collected from our vicinity in Palpa and funding from the Palpa Trust charity a load has been sent by four wheel drive vehicle containing tarpaulins, blankets, rice and other food items, water, copy books and pencils for school children. It is of course monsoon time now, so journeys into these areas are extremely difficult and sometimes of a long duration. There are still huge needs, not only in Barpak but over all the affected areas of Nepal and through The Palpa Trust we can make a difference.
“Any donations made to the Trust through me can be forwarded efficiently and put to immediate use for the purposes of immediate amelioration or for repair work to houses within our own district of Palpa.”