A pair of Nepalese families and a local charitable group are combining efforts to help citizens of the South Asian country that has suffered two devastating earthquakes in the last six weeks.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25 and a 7.3 magnitude earthquake May 12 have killed nearly 10,000 people, left 30,000 seriously injured and many more homeless.
Pragyan Burlakoti and Santu Dixit of Chatham are preparing a Nepalese Lunch and Auction at the WISH Centre Sunday June 14 to raise money for food and supplies for the area known as Salyantar, District Dhading where 90% of the homes were destroyed.
Pragyan said although none of her family members died in the two earthquakes, she and her husband Rishi lost about 30 friends and acquaintances.
Pragyan and Santu who have both lived in Chatham for five years, say the smaller areas, (Salyantar has a population of 10,000) are slower to get relief than those in larger centres such as the capitol of the country, Kathmandu, which is about 150 kilometers away.
Helping in the effort is Loads of Love, a humanitarian aid group in Chatham that is connected with relief efforts around the globe.
“We have been asked to use our expertise in the area which we’re more than happy to provide,” said public relations director Ken Powell.
He said his group views the effort as one community helping another.
“We view it as our duty as human beings and Christians to help anyone who is in need and those in Nepal are in a desperate situation right now.”
Powell said Loads of Love has surveyed residents of the area and determined that food is the number one priority.
“We’ve established that for $170, we can feed a family of five for one month. “
Pragyan said many of the areas’ residents are “sustenance farmers” who grow and store their food for much of the year.
“Right now there are stores of food which were to be used through the year which have been damaged,” she said. “There is a real problem if the attention of the world is diverted and we only get food for a short time period.”
Although the residents in the less populated areas didn’t suffer the highest initial casualties, their long-term outlook is bleaker.
The homes and buildings in the villages were made of mod-pad construction, a form of compacted dirt that can support buildings three stories high. Buildings in larger cities were made of concrete.
“The buildings in the villages didn’t have the weight of concrete so it was easier to survive in them when the earthquake happened,” she said.
Aftershocks continue to happen, causing landslides from the surrounding mountains, further endangering relief and rebuilding efforts, said Santu.
While food is the immediate need, there will also be the need for construction of homes and schools.
“The relief will take a long time,” she said. “There is damage across much of home.”
The Fundraising Lunch will be held on Sunday, June 14th at the Wish Centre 177 King Street from 11:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and are available at Loads of Love, 127 Colborne St., Gospel Text Book Store, 56 Grand Ave, WISH Centre, Chatham, 177 King St. and Sterling Variety Store, 188 Park St.
Donations can be made through the Loads of Love website at www.loadsoflove.ca in the donation section.
For any further information please call Loads of Love at 519-352-0911.