As the reports of the earthquake in Nepal started to trickle through the media a week last Saturday, I knew there would be terrible loss.
Crowded, chaotic Kathmandu with it’s lack of building regulations, foundations built on the soft sediments of the Kathmandu valley, was never going to fare well. But it was the humanitarian disaster that gradually unfolded from the mountain villages which showed the extent of the devastation.
“Langtang is gone.”
It was a week after the earthquake that I saw this headline. Reports of the devastation in the valley of Langtang and, in particular, the village named after the valley began to fill the media.
Langtang, a village of 400 houses, had been obliterated by an avalanche and landslide which was triggered on the slopes of the highest mountain in the valley, Langtang Lirung (7227m). Just one house remains standing.
The Langtang valley was an increasingly popular trekking area, just north of Kathmandu. Despite it’s relative accessibility, it always surprised me how few people chose to trek and climb there, and you’d rarely see commercial expeditions. I liked it, and have made two personal trips there over the years exploring Nepal.
Once I trekked through the valleys, lakes and passes and a couple of years later returned to climb Naya Kanga, which I wrote about in this blog post.
Out of all the tragedies in Nepal on the day of the earthquake, the news of Langtang village touched me the most.
Having not been in Nepal this spring, I feel detached and helpless. Reports of aid and money not getting to the people who desperately need it are disheartening.
So, how can we help the Nepali people affected by this disaster? Well, in the short term I believe the best thing to do is donate cash to charities who are experts in disaster relief and working in Nepal. Read this article by an aid expert if you’re not convinced.
Here are some ideas for big and small charities
In the longer term, I’m going to be trying to get back to Nepal as soon as I feel that travelling there won’t put pressure on resources. Many of the communities affected by the earthquake rely on tourism as their income. By going to Nepal, buying souvenirs, eating in local restaurants, staying in teahouses and employing people to carry your bags you can help Nepal rebuild.