Essentials needed most after Nepal earthquake

Food and shelter needed by survivors of 7.8-magnitude quake that stole thousands of lives and devastated homes.


    Right now in Nepal, it's the essentials that are needed most. With so many left homeless by the earthquake, makeshift open-air camps have sprung up throughout the country, and those suffering require the very basics - like food, shelter and hygiene.

    At a warehouse in Kathmandu, the capital, the partners of Gabi FRC, a social initiative founded by fashion designer Bina Ghale, have assembled a group of volunteers to make tents.

    "We, as a group," explains Ghale, "decided to take the initiative to produce tents as much as we can and to provide to the relief groups to distribute to the villages."

    In such trying times, when finding tents or the materials to produce them is near impossible, Ghale and her partners had to get creative. That's why they're utilising Flex Roll, which is typically used for advertising signs.

    "We started this because tents are really hard to get in Kathmandu," says Ayi Shrestha, Ghale's partner. "We scouted the whole city to buy tents and there was a big inflation of tent prices as well, so we thought of, why not make tents out of Flex materials?"

    Flex Roll, which is typically used for advertising signs, is being used creatively to make makeshift tents [Mohammed Jamjoom/Al Jazeera]

    They're buying it on credit, selling some of the finished tents at the price they cost to manufacture, and donating the rest.

    The partners stress this is only a temporary solution.

    "Water is not a problem for Flex," says Ghale, "but it can start cracking because of the sunlight."

    Which means the tents made here will last only about 20 days - not even long enough to be of help during monsoon season, which is rapidly approaching.

    Still, with more volunteers coming to the workshop everyday, they've been able to produce more than 1,300 tents and hope to continue doing so for the forseeable future.

    Keeping dry is but one worry, while killing germs is quite another.

    "The importance of hand sanitizer is in the places where water is rare," says Rijan Lai Mulmi. "So we are providing hand sanitizers to places where there's already less water and so that the water can be used for drinking purpose primarily."

    Mulmi, an environmental management student, and his team of volunteers are committed to producing as much hand sanitizer as they can. He tells me the process is fairly simple, that it takes only four to five people to make a batch. Far more difficult is getting it delivered to the hardest hit areas, where sanitation has suffered the most.

    Bigger concerns than diseases

    "Literally there's villages that have been levelled," says Mulmi, "and on the ground level we can just see the roofs of the house and people are staying in tents and open defecation is massively practiced and people are not taking good sanitation and hygiene practices."

    Adds Mulmi, "How much ever time I give for this, I feel like it's not enough and all of us feel the same way."

    Protection from the elements and prevention of diseases are important enough, but of even more concern at the moment is nourishment.

    Volunteers tell us they're making enough food to feed thousands of people everyday [Mohammed Jamjoom/Al Jazeera]

    At Sikh Gurudwara Guru Nanak Satsang in Kathmandu, members of this Sikh community centre have banded together to prepare much needed food.

    From peeling to chopping, stirring to cooking, it is a huge collective effort.

    Volunteers tell us they're making enough food to feed thousands of people everyday, that their teams aren't just delivering food; that they're also giving this food to the military to distribute.

    It's far from the only organisation preparing meals for those most affected. With Nepal under such enormous strain, the pressure here won't end anytime soon.

    At a time like this, when the flow of aid is clogged and the delivery of necessities bottleknecked, every little bit helps.

    Nikita Tripathi contributed to this report.

    Follow Mohammed Jamjoom on Twitter: @MIJamjoom

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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