After being more then a week in Nepal we managed to travel up to the village of Newarpani in the Nuwakot district, where Ram Thapa arranged for the delivery of tin zinc sheeting on behalf of Laxmi Support for emergency shelters and repair works to the damaged houses of the entire village.
It had rained incessantly the night before, so we were concerned about the possibility of getting in and out in a day. We called Ram at five in the morning to check his thoughts and though nothing seemed certain either way, we decided to give it a go. It was to prove a fortunate decision and with more rain in the days to come probably the last chance to get up to the hill village on the muddy unpacked track. Luckily it had only rained lightly in Nuwakot so our gamble paid off. We collected Ram and his wife at dawn and loaded 600 school copy books and 600 pencils onto the top of the jeep and set off on the highway to the Trisuli River foot bridge crossing.
At 8:30 we arrived at the Trisuli which was in spate. We crossed over the very long foot bridge: a great adventure for our five year-old Anneloes who insisted on going first. The only transport at the other side was the local and extremely decrepit looking bus. We had reserved the vehicle for 8:30am as it only drove down the hill in the morning for the villagers to connect to the Kathmandu bus and again in the evening to deposit the people back to the hill villages. Unfortunately, it all went a bit wrong. The bus arrived at 9:30 but the rear axle was seriously damaged & was jacked up with a bodged collection of river stones & ancient pieces of rusty iron. Alarmingly the bus team carried out all this work directly under the old local bus.
In the meantime all we could do was wait, unsure if we would ever reach Newarpani and becoming increasingly hot in the breaking day’s sun and humidity from the roaring Himalayan river. Juliette and Anneloes remained fascinated with all the chickens, buffalo and goats and played happily along the riverbank with sticks and stones.
The small village at this side of the foot bridge was completely destroyed by the earthquakes. We met a man with his pregnant wife and little toddler who now lived under a few pieces of tarpaulin. Another who had a cow shed under bits of rubbish and other river detritus. It’s had fell through the government’s safety net payment. We were to discover that many people had also failed to be included in the government aid programme and were suffering in the monsoon rains.
Finally the bus was repaired after three hours and we all climbed aboard along with half the village who were delighted to see their bus running at midday, yet after only an hundred meters the bus stopped and the driver went for lunch. More Nepali patience and another half an hour went by. Eventually, we made a small prayer for the bus not to break down when we were up there.
The mud road was so bad that we so we’re watching the upcoming holes, obstructive boulders and the vertiginous drop that was ever with us. The bus had to go back and forth to make sharp turns and every one had us ratcheting up the anxiety level. After one hour bouncing up and down in the bus it started to rain, which was bad news. Slippery pot holes on mountain sides was one thing but the possibilities of slippery mud or land slips were another. More than a few times we thought we never make it to the Newarpani. The tires slipped and skidded, stones were removed from the mud and then the bus failed on one wet hillside. Three times it tried but it seemed it was a case of so close but so far. Somehow someway one last try was enough and we made it up the hill & on to the last stretch. It felt like a little victory but for the locals it was just the usual.
A little further on the rain petered out and the bus roared into Newarpani with the horn blasting out. The entire village were waiting for us as they had for the last four and half hours. The villagers were genuinely delighted to see us in their homes and to be able to express their gratitude which we humbly relieved on all your parts. Laxmi Support had made a difference to the lives of these people and we wanted them to know the gift had come from all of you in whichever ways you made them.
Big Namaste to all and we were walked to Ram’s family home to be served the traditional meal of rice and lentils. Ram’s house was badly damaged and the first floor was for safety reasons demolished and covered with our tin zinc sheeting. Next to the house was a shelter for sleeping, made entirely of sheeting.
After the meal we were brought to the village centre for the ceremony. We all received Tibetan silk scarves, flower necklaces and lots of red tika powder. Alex received a traditional Nepali topi hat. It seemed that every household wished to express their thanks with an offering. It was very touching and emotional. Afterwards, we were seated before the village and formal speeches were made for a considerable time. When it came for Sam’s turn to speak she had a little tear and breaking through her feelings delivered a heart warming speech of thanks for their reception and assurances that we would keep the village at the heart of our charity. The Nepalis loved it and loud clapping followed with much hugging and warm embraces.
We walked through the village and noted pleasingly that our funds had not been wasted. Almost every single dwelling had been repaired with the tin zinc sheeting or temporary shelters had been constructed. Newarpani is a beautiful village surrounded by pine trees, with terraced corn and rice. Farm animals graze freely and the amazing views over the Trisuli valley drop at least a 1,000m. Anneloes was carried through the village by the older girls and had the best time of her life’. Juliette sat on the shoulders of Alex and took the Nepali hat for herself which the Nepalis thought was hilarious.
After two hours or so it was time to go, and back at the bus Ram shared out scarves and hats knitted by Sam’s aunty. It was gratefully received and after so further formal photographs we set off to a thousand smiles and waves.
Going down hill went much smoother and at the end of the foot bridge, Anneloes and Juliette were enchanted by group of baby goats less than a day old. Back in the jeep on a hard top road with our work complete, Alex asked Anneloes that she could do anything she wanted the following day. Her answer: ‘I want to go back to the village to all Beamed from my iPhone
Laxmi Support and the villagers of Newarpani would like to give a big thanks to all our sponsors for their generous support. We have now seen the repaired houses and new shelters built from our donations which is a tremendous support during the current monsoon rainy season.
Samantha, Alex, Hendrik, Sylvia
Laxmi Support Foundation