2 Camp Hope

Thursday 4th June

 

The monsoon season is almost here and it is very important to raise the floors of the tents in order to keep them and all the villagers dry. Everyone worked together to take down the tents, lay down the cement cylinder blocks, put in plywood for the tent floors, then raise them. Our Dwarika’s staff worked at lightning speed and they managed to complete all residential, medical and specialty tents in three days. A big thank you to Namlo Europa for the support they provided for materials for raising the floors.

Since it is Ghewa, a traditional Tamang mourning ceremony that takes place 45 days of a family member’s death, the children had a cultural program in Godavari by ICIMOD Nepal today. All 76 children learned about flora and fauna, as well as forest preservation. The children participated in outdoor activities, games and painting.   The outing allowed the kids to experience something new, explore the great outdoors and enjoy a day out of the camp. A big thank you to all who helped to make this happen.

 

Friday, 5th June

 

Today was an amazing day for the children. A young woman named Rebu arrived at the camp from a Moving Mountain School Bags, an organization she put together with her family and friends. What started with just hard boiled eggs and tea for earthquake survivors, turned into a passion for the betterment of Nepalese youth who lost everything. Over 5,000 schools were destroyed on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, and she made it her mission to put together school bags with pens, paper, sharpeners, sandals and whistles in case of emergency. Friends and family of Rebu gave her money and now she travels around with her brother and friends giving school bags to children. The smiles on their faces was incredible!

In the afternoon, five nurses arrived at the camp to be prepped by the volunteer camp doctor.  They will take turns volunteering one day a week for a total of five days.  Shortly thereafter, a volunteer arrived with lots of kids clothing from her friends in Bali. Wow! what mayhem, although it was great fun. Together, they handed out lots of clothing to the kids ranging in age from about three years to 15 years old, both boys and girls.

 

 

Saturday, 6th June

 

One of the volunteers brought lots of second-hand adult clothing for the camp. This morning we handed out the women’s and men’s clothing which was good fun, but not as much mayhem as when we gave to the children. You can’t imagine how happy everyone is to get a shirt, pair of pants, hat or sweater.  The smiles on their faces lights up a room!

In the afternoon, a group of young men and women came by to conduct art and music therapy for children between the ages of 3-16. They handed out paper, clipboards, pastels, colored pencils and markers according to their age. Immediately after the drawing and singing, a clown arrived to tell jokes, do balloon tricks and bring smiles to their faces. It was an action packed day and the children had a blast. After such devastation, it’s so important for them to have joy in their lives.

 

 

Sunday, 7th June

 

Today was a whirlwind…in preparation for the first day of school, school bags, notebooks and water bottles were handed out. Shanti Sewa Griha, donated water bottles for all the school children. Several of us spent the day handing out new school bags, water bottles, school books and notebooks to the kids.

The designated kid’s tent is now being modified…by day, one volunteer teaches English to the mothers and in the evening, it becomes a study tent.

 

 

Monday, 8th June

 

Today, we went to the camp in the morning to check on everyone. Now, that school started and the children are busy during the day, everything seems to be running smoothly.  We can now concentrate on improving the camp and planning for the future in terms of their relocation/rebuilding back to their villages.

In afternoon, two boys aged 9 and 12 arrived into the camp from the village today. It’s so difficult to see the villagers when they first arrive because they look as though they have lost their will and their hope. After a few days here, we know that the smiles will come.

 

 

Tuesday, 9th June

 

By the time we arrived at the camp this morning, we were told that one of the women was rushed to the hospital because her water broke and was about to have a baby. In the late morning, we took the new boys to school to enroll them in school and then distributed bananas to the babies and young children, as well as some of the elderly.

In the evening, geometry boxes were handed out to the kids, followed by the birth of a baby boy at a neaby hospital at 7pm. This nowo brings the total number of camp members to 331.

 

 

Wednesday, 10th June

 

At 3:30am, a team of nine villagers and four volunteers left for Sindhupalchowk to evalute their villages, building and land. Many people at the camp are concerned with their property and how it will fare unattended in the monsoon.  Today’s mission maybe the last time they can safely go back to the villages before the heavy rain sets in. Equipped with helmets, whistles, food and other necessities, the team is planning on returning to Kathmandu tonight.

In the evening, we received a large donation of clothing, glucose, biscuits and chow chow, dried noodles. We are blessed with the outpouring of support from our friends, neighbors and concerned Nepalese.

Dawa Sherpa, one of our key members of the camp, also an active member of the Sindhupalchowk Community, distributed stationary products to the school children. We are lucky to have Dawa of part of our team, he has been instrumental in setting up of the camp.

At 3:30am, a team of nine villagers and four volunteers left for Sindhupalchowk to evalute their villages, building and land. Many people at the camp are concerned with their property and how it will fare unattended in the monsoon.  Today’s mission maybe the last time they can safely go back to the villages before the heavy rain sets in. Equipped with helmets, whistles, food and other necessities, the team is planning on returning to Kathmandu tonight.

In the evening, we received a large donation of clothing, glucose, biscuits and chow chow, dried noodles. We are blessed with the outpouring of support from our friends, neighbors and concerned Nepalese.

Dawa Sherpa, one of our key members of the camp, also an active member of the Sindhupalchowk Community, distributed stationary products to the school children. We are lucky to have Dawa of part of our team, he has been instrumental in setting up of the camp.

 

 

Thursday, 11th June

 

The morning began with a beautiful blessing and naming ceremony for the newest member of our camp. Camp Hope is lucky to have our own lama (priest) residing with us. He conducted a traditional Buddhist ceremony for Mingma, our little baby of hope born two days ago. Holy water was given to the baby, his parents and grandparents. It brought tears to our eyes. We are hoping they will nickname him hope, but perhaps

IOM (International Organization for Migration), one of the largest relief organizations for displaced people arrived to begin filming at the camp. They have visited several camps around Kathmandu Valley and were surprised to find our camp in such a good condition. The IOM representative informed us that Camp Hope was the only camp who had raised the tents onto platforms to prevent water from coming into the tents during the monsoon. A big kudos to the Camp Hope team…according to a few of their reps, our camp was the cleanest and most well-organized camp. It is our hope that we will benefit from their visit; additional funds to pay for raising our washing area, kitchen and dining tent. We also discussed the possibility of receiving corrugated roofs for the dining area for further protection during the monsoon season.

Since most displaced people lost their Nepalese identification cards in the earthquake, it is extremely important for the government to issue new ID cards in a timely manner. A group of officials spent the day at the camp going through everyone’s identification, taking fingerprints and issuing new ID cards. It was a long and tedious process for everyone involved, but thankfully it went smoothly.

 

Friday, 12th June

 

We had a debriefing on the mission back to the village. Unfortunately, the five villages suffered greatly during both of the earthquake. One of the villagers had been back after the first earthquake and told us that the land was damaged beyond recognition. One of the team members was a geologist and gave his unofficial assessment…most of the land is inhabitable. While they were in the region, Sindulpalchowk received another 4.3 earthquake and the group said rocks were constantly falling from high land, even the bridge they crossed in the morning became more unstable by late afternoon. Unfortunately, the Bhote Kosi river (the river in which the road runs along to this area) is flanked on both side by massive, several thousand meter high mountains.

The drive alone is scary and potentially life threatening with boulders and rocks falling every second. Sadly, kilometer after kilometer of what was once thriving towns and villages, is now all ghost towns. The children are thriving in their new school, a bamboo school painted in traditional Nepalese colors. Here are a few photos of the school which is only a five minute walk from the camp. It is so nice to see smiling and laughing children. We are doing what we intended, bringing hope back to a new generation.

Starting today, every Friday we will bring a few of the children to the hotel to spend the night. We will rotate the kids every week, so that everyone will have a chance to experience a night here. We specifically chose children who were extremely helpful around the camp; Binita, Simran, Nima, Pema and Rinchen got to spend the first night here. Wow…what a memorable experience for everyone! The children experienced their first hot showers (and a bath for one!), first elevator ride and choosing their own food at the barbecue. All of us at Dwarika’s were humbled to spend an evening with these beautiful children.

 

 Saturday, 13th June

 

The day began with lots of laughter and smiles from the children who got to spend the night at the hotel. We took them swimming in the pool, which was another first for all of them.

Today is the day of rest in Nepal, so the children enjoyed a day off from school today. The day started with a death ceremony honoring those that passed away during the first earthquake. This special puja (ceremony) was performed by our priest in the prayer tent as today marked the 49th day after the first earthquake.

In the afternoon, a large refrigerator donated by the US Embassy was delivered and installed into the kitchen tent. Camp Hope is lucky to have so many supporters during this difficult time. A refrigerator will help maintain the food for the camp. There was a music and singing class in the afternoon, followed by a massive camp cleanup.

 

 

Sunday, 14th June

 

The morning began with lengthy discussions with two team leaders from the camp regarding their neighboring villages. There are many extended family members still living up in the devasted mountain areas close to the villages of the members of Camp Hope. The area in Sindulpalchowk is prone to landslides during the monsoon, so everyone fears for their lives in the coming months. Sadly, the villagers don’t want to leave their cattle behind during the monsoon, so it is imperative to send relief to them.

Sangita is requesting a helicopter from a few organizations in order to provide emergency food, and the necessary supplies; tents, blankets, water purification tablets, etc., needed for the coming months. We are in the process of coordinating the purchase of these items for the following villages; 95 people in Tanga, Kharku, Tashithang in Ward 8. 41 people in Thangsur and Gumba Dada, Ward 6 & 7.

At the camp, the last of the pencil case distribution took place in the morning. After the children left for school, the women were busy starting their crafts; knitting, weaving and sewing small dolls and animals. We got our first order for a sweater from one of the volunteers!

 

 

Monday, 15th June

 

We are patiently waiting to hear about the status of the helicopter supply drop. In the meantime, lots of amazing things going on in the camp. The majority of the older women in the camp are illiterate. Today we started women’s literacy classes and 45 women attended. You cannot imagine how excited there were to learn the basics, starting with the Nepali alphabet. We handed out pencil cases, workbooks, pencils and erasers to give them learning tools and inspire them. It’s wonderful to see them all participate, followed by several of them practicing writing on their own after class.

Since our camp members are not used to lower elevations and the effects of the monsoon season; heat and an abundance of mosquito, we feel it’s important to help prevent them from getting mosquito borne illnesses. Our tailors completed the last of the mosquito net doors for the tents and we distributed the remaining ones.

It is our dream to empower these women prior to their return to the villages. We want to give them the skills in order to create their own crafts resulting in a micro credit financing project in the years to come. Shanti Sewa Griha has been training the women to learn several varieties of crafting; bags, cushions, therapeutic balls and knitting dolls, sweaters, hats, socks and vests.

 

Tuesday, 16th June

 

In the morning, we visited a ICIMOD, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development. They have been mapping earthquake disaster zones with the government. Unfortunately, the entire area the five villages that our camp members are from, have been deemed inhabitable and at high risk by the Ministry of Home Affairs. All villages will need to be relocated, but we will need to readdress this after monsoon season. When you look at the photos below, the photo of the computer image with an area highlighted in red (deemed inhabitable and at high risk), depicts the area our villages are located in.

We got the go-ahead for a helicopter courtesy of WFP (World Food Program) and everyone is busy preparing for an emergency helicopter supply drop within the next few days. Today and tomorrow we will be busy procuring tents, tarps, blankets, medicine, solar lights, water purification tablets, candles and a one month supply of food for 136 people living in Sindhupalchowk.

Lastly, our baby Mingma is now one week old.

 

Wednesday, 17th June

 

We got in touch with an organization called Waves 4 Water, as they have been providing water filtration systems for disaster victims who don’t have access to clean water. The director from the Nepali chapter came to give us a demonstration. Wow! He took a few handfuls of dirt and put it in the bucket to make the demonstration more effective. Clearly the water was filthy, but after pumping it a few times into the glass, the water was crystal clear. This tiny tiny water filter gets hooked up to an ordinary bucket and can provide 1 million gallons of clean water, which is equal to 100 people for five years! He provided three for the villages in the mountains and two for the camp; one for the kitchen tent and one for the kids area. A big thanks to Waves 4 Water!

The rest of the day was busy with final preparation for the helicopter supply drop. We had lots of last minute requests for the villagers; toothbrushes, toothpaste, laundry soap, matches, candles and other necessities.

Living in such close quarters makes it difficult to prevent others from getting sick (once someone has a virus or other illness.). In the evening, we prepared an isolation area for those who are sick in the camp.

 

Thursday, 18th June

 

We had a meeting with NCED, Nepal Center for Educational Development, to discuss starting a restoration heritage plan. They presented a concept for house-pooling in order for future sustainability to heritage homes. There are still many historical buildings that are private homes, so it is our hope to restore them with the latest technology, but keeping traditional styles, architecture and the facade. House-pooling will allow for urban development as we can widen roads, without disturbing these homes.

Further to this meeting, we have scheduled another discussion tomorrow, followed by a presentation to the following stakeholders involved with architectural heritage and restoration in Nepal: UNESCO, ICIMOD, Nepal Heritage Society, Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, Societ of Nepalese Architecture, Department of Archaeology, National Planning Commission, as well as the municipalities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

Later in the afternoon, we were surprised to find some of the men helping prepare this evening’s dinner. As they told us ‘our mothers are missing, so the sons have to do it’. The missing mothers were busy taking literacy classes, therefore in a country where the men seldom help prepare the meal, we are hopefully changing their mindset for future generations.

At the end of the day, we surprised the kids by going to their school. We had an incredibly walk home with them to the camp.
Pray for Camp Hope.

 

Friday, 19th June

 

Our angel arrived at Dwarika’s last night, an American man who was only in Nepal for two days. He wanted to take a helicopter trip to see Nepal from the sky, and simultaneously help the Nepalese. Since one of the villages scheduled for the coming week, has no landing area for a large helicopter we decided to drop a small relief package to one of the villages. The morning was busy with everyone quickly preparing the goods and shortly thereafter, James, Wendy (one of our volunteers) and Sonam (a team leader) left for the airport.

The weather was clear and it was a short trip north towards the Tibetan border. Unfortunately, our designated landing strip was not visible due to fallen rock, so we landed in a school yard, just south of the border. Sonam was in touch with the village to transfer the goods. We’re not sure whether all of the goods got transferred, but we’re happy knowing that we delivered items to those in need. During the few minutes we were unloading goods, a woman came to us asked if we could bring her elderly, sick mother to Kathmandu. The woman was so frail and had not walked since before the earthquake. A few minutes later, this woman and her mother were in the helicopter flying back to healthcare and safety.

In the evening, we had our second rotation of children from the camp spend the evening at the hotel. We brought over Anu, Pema, Sumi, Ang Tsering, Pasang and Tashi. We had a wonderful time with the kids at the barbecue and they had the time of their lives….eating, singing, watching television, playing games and taking their first hot bath!

 

Saturday, 20th June

 

It poured at the camp the night before and we had a drainage problem at the camp. This morning we brought over generators and pumps in order to pump out the water. We sent over our chief engineer to assess the problem and we are going to install new pipes and connect it to the city line.

We spent a leisurely morning with the children around the hotel. The kids had a blast swimming in the pool, playing carrom board and kicking a ball. It was one of the girl’s birthdays, so we celebrated her special day with lunch and a cake.

In the afternoon, were introduced to a doctor who runs a home care hospice service. He is going to work with Camp Hope on a daily basis; sending over doctors and nurses providing care for the camp members.

 

Sunday, 21st June

So much happened today….first, we decided to take a few new members into the camp, so we are adding one more tent. We needed to rearrange a few tents in order to accommodate one more. Despite our efforts creating ‘isolation tents’, we have a few new cases of mumps and chicken pox. We are have had numerous discussions with the camp members about how diseases spread and what isolation means. We hope to have this under control within the next few days. Lastly, lots of cooking at the camp today….the members were busy making chapati, samosa and other tasty foods.

A team arrived from Japan with a donation for Camp Hope. They brought a natural treatment for diarrhea due to food poisoning, digestive disorders and water contamination. Since it is difficult to combat something as easy diarrhea in the west, here, it is one of the largest causes of death in infants. Immediately following their arrival was a doctor along with a few members of his team. It is our hope that his team of doctors and nurses will take over the medical care of our camp members.

Dwarika’s hosted the first meeting in regard to the restoration and conservation of Kathmandu Valley’s historical buildings. Together with ICIMOD, NSET, the municipalities from Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu, Kathmandu Preservation Society, Nepal Heritage Society, Society of Nepal Architects, and other stakeholders concerned with the preservation of Nepal’s living heritage. The basis for the meeting was discussing urban regeneration in the city core.

 

 

Monday, 22nd, June

 

Some days at the camp, everything runs smoothly. Thankfully, today was one of those days. Kids are busy at school, women are taking their literacy classes, knitting, weaving and sewing, while many of the young ones spend time throughout the day being tended to by the elders. The community is coming together nicely….everyone has their established routines, schedules; security, clean-up, preparing the meal, cooking the meal, etc. It is so nice to see everyone working together, helping each other out, and routinely taking turns doing the necessary work at the camp.

 

Tuesday, 23rd June

 

Thanks to Shanti Sewa Griha, we began training the men how to make woven stools. One of their staff arrived in the morning to teach the men this new crafts skill. Not only is wonderful because they are learning new techniques, but once they return to their village, they can continue producing for themselves, or as a small business. They are made of simple materials; bamboo, a recycled rubber tire and string. The men were so enthusiastic, that many more than anticipated, took part in the workshop. They were thrilled to be busy, discover a newfound skill, while feeing a sense of accomplishment. By the time the day was almost over, they had almost completed the first stool. Nearby, women sat helping cut bamboo, while others knit and wove, just wanting to be a part of this amazing community.

We got a donation of iron tablets in the late afternoon, which we distributed along with per-natal vitamins to all the pregnant women. Also, today was vitamin distribution day, as we gave to the elderly and for some of the sick children.

Lots of meetings happening throughout the day regarding the heritage and restoration of Kathmandu’s historical buildings. Please keep reading to find out more regarding this ongoing Dwarika’s Foundation project.

 

Wednesday, 24th June

 

One of our guests told us about a temporary shelter in need of help near Swayambhunath. In the morning, two of our volunteers went to visit the camp for survivors of Langtang, an area where an avalanche literally wiped out a village in mere seconds. The majority of this camp have lost several members of their family. The camp is located in the yard of a monastery and although they have shelter and food, the feeling amongst the villagers is utter sadness. They lack the one thing our Camp Hope members have….hope. We thought we could bring our help to these people who are in desperate need of camp organization; communal kitchen, medical, schooling and activities. We are planning to have a few of their ‘team leaders’ visit Camp Hope within the next few days.

In the afternoon, the stools were in full swing and many of the men were completing their first piece. While walking around to check the tents in the evening, we listened to the sounds of chants from one women, the pitter patter of children running around and laughter from the kids returning from school. We also had a visit from four lamas whose three-year, three-month, three-week, three-day meditation in a cave in the Himalayas. They were interrupted in their second year by the earthquake. One of the lamas was from Yarmasing, one of our camp members villages.

 

 

Thursday, 25th June

Early in the morning, Sonam our team leader headed to the airport for a helicopter supply drop to Tanga. 95 people are still living there, tending to their livestock without access to food and emergency supplies. Their roads have been cut off due to collapsed bridges and landslides. Thanks to WFP (World Food Programme) who provided the helicopter, we were apply to provide 1,700 kilos of supplies including medical kits, solar lights, blankets, tarps, rice, dal, salt, second hand clothing and other necessities. We still have another 1,200 kilos that needs to go, so we are waiting for the second scheduled flight date.

In the afternoon, a large group arrived from the temporary camp near Swayambhunath that we visited yesterday. They were impressed with Camp Hope and are looking forward to having their members exchange ideas about how to better effectively run their camp. We are going to start helping them with the organization of their kitchen, tents and activities. Afterwards, they headed to the hotel to discuss the possibilities of future teamwork together.

 

 

Friday, 26th June

In the morning, the two Portuguese guys who were instrumental in founding Camp Hope along with the Dwarika’s team, Pedro and Lorenzo, returned to Nepal. It is so wonderful they are back and the children were excited to spend time with them. A few of the girls wanted to show us their new dance….love their spirit!

It’s another Friday at the camp and that means another sleepover with the children. Wowza…things got a little crazy gathering the children to take them to the hotel for the evening. They know they have to set a good example and help-out around the camp in order to be next in line. Six young kids came to the hotel and we had a momo party with them! Since the children were a bit younger, they all wanted to sleep together. One amazing volunteers Lya and Andrew, had all the children sleep in their room!

A good time was had by all.

 

 

Saturday, 27th June

It was a busy day today….in the morning one of our donors arrived with lots of towels and clothing for all the camp members. We had a both a morning and afternoon sessions handing out towels and a large bag of clothing to each of the 18 tent leaders. Later, we were visited by representative from the UN. In terms of a camp set-up, they were surprised that their assistance was not required at a IDP (internally displaced persons). Kudos to the Dwarika’s team for all their efforts!

Since it was a Saturday (the day of rest) and the children don’t have school, we always like to schedule an activity for the children. In the afternoon, a dance instructor from Shanti Sewa Griha led an afternoon dance program for many of the children. About 30 of the kids participated in the dancing learning a traditional Nepalese dance.

Lastly, one of our volunteers who has been with us for the last three weeks was leaving. It was a sad farewell for Wendy….many of the camp members surprised her with kada (a traditional scarf used for blessings), a handmade flower malla and several of the children presented her with drawings. We are sad to see her go!