The following are a collection of pictures and a journal entry composed by our wonderful Shenpen volunteer, Rachel Fiona. Thank you, Rachel, for all your kindness and hard work!
“We departed from Kathmandu at 7.00 that morning. It didn’t take too long before we left the urban landscape behind and were driving along a road, hugging the hill, with views of the green valley and opposite hills around us. Clouds lined the slopes in suspension bellow us. Along the way, many parts of the road were partially obstructed by small landslides; in some places just earth and plants, in others earth and large pieces of rock. After a chai stop about mid-way, and having crossed a more serious landslide where several cars were blocked, we arrived near the village of Kaldepani.
With us we had brought bundles of tin sheet for the 46 families of the village. As we pulled up by the main road, the inhabitants of Kaldepani who were already waiting for us came up to greet us. The distribution began as the bundles were lowered from the truck and lined along the dirt road going down into the valley. Even though there is actually a road leading to the main part of the village, the monsoon rains made it impossible to use, as it was too steep and slippery. The men and women of the village started on the job of rolling the tin sheets and carrying the heavy loads towards their homes. Because of the sharp edges, there were a few wounds along the way, but Achung was there with his medical kit to disinfect and bandage up.
The two hour walk to the main part of the village took us downhill along the dirt road, across a river then through the rice fields before climbing up on the other side of the valley. On the way down from the main road, we passed a house, completely destroyed and filled with rubble, just one example of the destruction that had taken place here. The climb into the village in the midday sun was quite a challenge for the inexperienced, yet the villagers, young and old clambered up the steep slippery hill with not a problem in the world wearing only “chappals”. Seeing the way the entire village was built on such steep terrain, it is not hard to imagine how easily the earthquake and landslides can completely destroy the homes built in such an environment.
As we rose higher, maize plantation far taller than ourselves appeared and we reached the home of the family that offered us lunch. What they call home is today just a shelter; a wooden frame topped with some old tin sheets. The roof was so low that it was not possible to stand up inside. The sun on the tin combined with the small volume of the house made the inside hot like an oven. The new tin sheets will be used to raise the roves and offer more protections on the sides of the shelter, now partly eposes to the elements and the local fauna, namely snakes. The family who received us had cooked us delicious dhal bhat and freshly made yoghurt; so much generosity and kindness from those who had lost so much. I could not speak with the inhabitants of Kaldepani, because I do not know nepali, but the smiles exchanged meant more than words.
After lunch we climbed an other half hour to the village school. We had brought stationery for the students of the different classes, and handed out pencil cases, pens, pencils, notebooks and geometry sets. Everyone was very happy and before we left, the school organised a thank you ceremony, an other very touching moment of the day.
Finally it was time to leave, and saying good-by to such warm and kind people wasn’t easy. The most moving part of the day was truly how even in the most difficult situation and after having been through so much, the inhabitants of Kaldepani were among the kindest and most generous I have had the chance to meet”