Day four after the earthquake in Nepal: It is incredibly difficult to get the tarps we are going to distribute to the people who desperately need them as a shelter against cold and rain. Back in the hotel, at the end of my second day here. I left the house this morning in good spirits. The sun was shining (which meant people on the streets were dry and warm), and the plane with our long awaited tarpaulins was supposed to land at noon. Oh yes, I had also been told I could have my own room! Now that the floor doesn’t shake in the night (or at least not enough to wake me up), I don’t feel the need to sleep in the same room with a member of the Emergency Relief Team any longer.
Access is incredibly difficult
Now, as I drink some tea and collect my thoughts, the mood is definitely different. The plane has not arrived. Our 5.000 tarpaulins are still in Dubai. Is it because the plane did not get approval to fly over India, or because it didn’t get clearance from Kathmandu? Who knows – at the end of the day, people have still no protection from the rain. Even if the plane lands tomorrow as it seems, who knows when we can actually get it to our project areas? Access by road is incredibly difficult; the government of Nepal has offered to airlift our load to the target locations, but will this really happen? And, relying on the government to organize the delivery can also slow things down: the approach now is to prepare a complete ‘rescue package’ with all the things people need (shelter, food, non-food items etc) but the lack of one might delay the sending of the rest. Unfortunately none of this is in our control – which makes it all the more frustrating.
The wedding was planned – luckily everybody is alive
And today, while I was taking a picture of the Welthungerhilfe logo above the office’s door, Barbara Zilly, the country director, pointed at the white and red decorations hanging from an upstairs balcony. “You know what that is?” she asked me “On Saturday there was supposed to be a wedding. Didn’t you see the roses on the gate?” The family living above the office had already organized everything and had invited Barbara and her team. But there was no celebration on Saturday, there was no exchanging of promises of undying love. There was the world shaking and a family – with a still unmarried girl – sharing the floor of the compound with Welthungerhilfe colleagues, who had decided to sleep in the open, for fear of finding themselves under a collapsed building.
On top of this, today we kept hearing stories of rising tensions and disorders among the local population. Tired of having NGO and UN teams coming over asking questions and taking pictures, they started shouting and asking for food, water, shelter, medicines. How to blame them? And how to explain that the bottleneck is a congested airport…?
But I can’t go to sleep like this: I need to look at the positive side. I take a look at twitter and that cheers me up: the support our work here is getting in Germany is astounding and gives me strength and motivation.
As I collect my things to make my way towards my room, I realize it has started raining. Seeing the drops of water falling in a swimming pool used to soothe me – right now it only makes me think about those people, out there, who are shivering and wondering where the promised shelter is. The plane better comes tomorrow.