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Indian NGO brings relief aid to Nepal village

By Anusha Subramanian
Last updated on: May 16, 2015 12:20 IST
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Volunteers provided the villagers with emergency supplies of food and blankets brought in by the Indian NGO, Goonj. Photograph: Anusha Subramanian

Denizens of the Nepalese village of Pikhel, who were not receiving expeditious relief in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that struck their homeland, found aid from an Indian NGO that heard their voice even when the Nepalese government could not. Anusha Subramanian reports from the village.

Also read: Inside This village in Nepal has just 5 sacks of rice and some dal to survive

The wait for relief aid for the 52 Dalit families of Pikhel, situated three kilometres from the outskirts of Bhaktapur, ended sooner than they had imagined when Goonj, an Indian social enterprise, with the help of a Nepalese NGO, Child Reach, provided relief to the distressed families. Pikhel was one of the villages that was nearly reduced to rubble in the massive earthquake measuring 7.9 Richter scale that struck Nepal on April 25. 

The villagers breathed a sigh of relief when they were told by the volunteers that they had arrived to give them relief supplies.

As immediate relief, the 52 families were given tarpaulins, 500 kilos of rice, 100 kilos of pulses, 15 kilos of sugar, ready-to-make noodle packets, biscuits and blankets.

Villagers huddle around the bags of rice and biscuits that the NGO brought along with them. Photograph: Anusha Subramanian

“We are thankful to Goonj for providing us with relief,” says Ashok Balkoti, a senior from the village who has been running pillar to post trying to organise some relief for the community.

“With these supplies we should be able to carry on for a few weeks. We adults can survive without food for a few days but the children cannot. We were worried for them and had asked many for help but did not see any help coming our way.” 

Initially, the villagers pooled in NPR 1,000 to 2,000 (around Rs 650 to 1,250) each to buy themselves a few sacks of rice, dal, vegetables, salt, oil and spices so as to be able to cook food.

“We exhausted that supply in about five days as we are 250 people,” says Sonoj, a young man who spoke Hindi and English. The villagers did get some sacks of rice from Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust.

It’s been 16 days since the earthquake struck Nepal.

Families from the village stand alongside volunteers from the NGO Goonj. Photograph: Anusha Subramanian

While search and rescue operations have finished, the daunting task of supplying relief to the people still remains. Aid is trickling in bits and pieces. Some affluent locals who have the wherewithal to provide for the needy are doing so in their own individual capacity.

Biju Shrestha, who runs the Spring Dale School in Bhaktapur, is one such local. Shrestha is doing his bit to help the families. He gave out some dry food and medical supplies. Shreshtha along with some of his ex-students volunteered to give out the supplies from Goonj to the villagers.

When asked if they would wait for government aid, Balkoti says, “We are not going to wait for anyone now. If we get something its good but otherwise we are all getting back to work in the next two or three days and get on with our lives and earn our living.”

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Anusha Subramanian in Bhaktapur, Nepal
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