Nepal (MNN) — Landslides caused by heavy rain in Nepal last week killed nearly two dozen people.
The tragedy offers a glimpse into the race against time that the quake-stricken country faces as a whole. As a result of the April and May quakes and aftershocks, 500,000 houses were destroyed and another 269,000 damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in makeshift shelters.
Now mid-June, although the rescue phase is over, and the secondary relief phase nearly complete, the tertiary rebuilding phase is being hampered. Noel Becchetti with Asian Access outlined the problem from a hotel room in Kathmandu, Nepal. “There’s a national rubble issue here. There’s so much rubble that has to be cleaned out before they can begin to get ground ready for rebuilding, that that’s the A#1 issue.”
When people hear that what’s needed is “rubble clearing” crews, they get the impression that cleanup is close to completion. Becchetti observes that it’s quite the opposite. “The TV pictures and all that are helpful, but this place is so dynamic, and what happened here is so devastating. It’s hard to get your mind around it until you see it with your own eyes.”
What’s more, not everyone has gotten relief aid yet. Becchetti joined a team that headed for a village just 25 km outside of Kathmandu. It took four hours to get there, not because of crumbled roads, but because of the natural terrain that is part of the Himalayan kingdom nicknamed “the Roof of the World.” He says, “We were in a village that no one had gotten to because it’s hard to get to places. People were saying, ‘The government hasn’t come here. Nobody else has come here. You guys came here.'”
In fact, they were called by the lone Christian (now a pastor) in the village. Through partnerships with other faith-based groups, a lot can be done. “What they’re trying to do is get teams who can go and begin to do that, and at the same time, they are identifying residents who are in the greatest need and putting together packages that will get them through the next several months.” Specifically, “They’re going to get families the tin and bamboo to make a shelter, flooring, bedrolls, and towels–just the basics. The race is on to get as much of that relief out [as possible] before the monsoons hit.”
Becchetti noticed another factor that plays into the restoration of a community. “There is this collective PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that you can see everywhere. So, what Christians are trying to do is really plant seeds of just saying, ‘We’re here because we love you. God loves you. We just want to reach out to you. What do you need? How can we help?'”
The United Nations has estimated that 1.4 million people require food assistance, due to high damage to agriculture-based livelihoods. Even though other aid efforts seem to be struggling, Becchetti says, “People have been generous. We have been able to raise a fair amount of money. That money is already over here. It’s already working. I happen to know it’s going to run out in two weeks. [To put it into perspective,] we’re raising thousands of dollars, [but] we’re in a situation where they need hundreds of millions.”
Here’s how you can pray:
- That the government would allow others to stay and help and that they will allow funding to keep flowing in.
- Asian Access team is assessing needs on the ground; pray for wisdom.
- That people would have access to food, water, medical care, and other needs.
- For the Church to reach out and that many Nepalese will turn to Christ as a result.
- Pray for more funds and that funds received by all the groups will get to the ground in Nepal quickly.
- This disaster is falling off the radar rapidly. Pray for people to get updates and continue to respond in compassion.
- Pray for perseverance for those displaced, for those delivering aid, and for the government of Nepal, as it will take years to resolve and rebuild.