Nepal (MNN) — The focus is shifting from rescue to recovery in Nepal. Government officials began calling for tents and tarpaulins yesterday to shelter quake survivors as rains intensify and the monsoon season approaches.
It’s been five days since Nepal’s deadliest quake in 80 years shook up the heavily-populated region surrounding Kathmandu. Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters (SARAID) recently told BBC News the search and rescue phase of disaster response typically lasts between five and seven days.
An estimated eight million people have been affected by the quake. The death toll has soared past 5,000 and is expected to keep rising as workers gain access to remote areas.
Along with providing survivors with shelter, aid workers are focused on getting injured survivors the medical care they need and preventing disease outbreaks. Close to 90% of hospitals located near the earthquake’s epicenter received “extensive damage,” Reuters reports. As a result, many patients are being treated in the open.
Patrick Klein with Vision Beyond Borders says their partners need help getting food, clean water, medicine, and tents.
“A lot of people are living in the streets; they’re still afraid of the buildings coming down,” he says.
“Even the girls we’ve rescued out of trafficking, they’re actually sleeping out in the open. They have nothing to cover over them to protect them.”
In Nepal, the monsoon season takes place at the end of June and lasts until September. VBB’s desire is to provide high-quality housing for individuals during the monsoon season. Help them provide their partners with disaster relief tents here.
God in the midst of chaos
Natural disasters like Saturday’s massive earthquake often trigger “why” questions among survivors: Why did this happen to me? Why did I survive and my loved ones didn’t? Why didn’t my ancestors, or gods, protect me?
Believers might not have answers to all of the “why” questions, but they can point survivors to the only true source of hope. Over the past couple of years, Klein says the Nepalese have been opening up to the Gospel message.
Saturday’s earthquake could be a catalyst for Christ.
“They’ve seen their temples demolished in front of them, their idols smashed,” notes Klein. “It’s a great opportunity for the Church to go forth.”
Pray that survivors’ eyes are opened to the Truth of Christ’s salvation. Pray for the boldness of Nepalese Christians as they care for survivors.
“This is what happens a lot of times with catastrophes: Christians are able to minister and share what they have, whether it’s food or medicine or water,” explains Klein.
“What happens is these unsaved people say, ‘Wow, you Christians are different, you really care about us. We want to know about Jesus; tell us why you do what you do.'”
Klein is heading to Nepal next week. Just as aid workers are shifting their focus from search and rescue to early recovery efforts, VBB is adapting their response to meet the needs of their ministry partners.
“Our team that’s coming on May 12 was going to be more of a hiking team, and going out and sharing the Gospel in the villages; but we’re shifting gears,” says Klein.
Teams will now be bringing in needed supplies like water filters, food, medicine, and vitamins, and helping ministry partners rebuild and respond. VBB has been ministering in Nepal for the past 22 years, and Klein says they’ll be sticking around for the entire long-term recovery process.
“The clean-up and rebuild [will] take many years to come,” says Klein.
“We’re excited about being there, helping the people, and then using that as an opportunity to share the Gospel.”
How you can help
Prayer is the first and foremost need, Klein says.
“One village we heard [about] had 1,200 houses; only four are left standing. Another village: 95% wiped out. We’ve heard reports of…whole villages [that] have been buried,” he shares.
“There’s a lot of chaos, and we need to pray for God’s peace to settle, especially on His people.”
In addition, a VBB ministry partner specifically requested prayer for first responders.
“They’re helping dig in the rubble, and they find people that have died, or they find body parts. It’s very difficult for them, and they have to live with that [trauma],” Klein explains. “Please pray for those first responders.”
“If people would like to donate, we could really use vitamins,” says Klein. “We’re also working on getting some water filtration systems and some good tents.”
Find more ways to help Nepal earthquake survivors here.