Saturday 25 April 2015
We wish to thank everyone who has contacted us with their best wishes of encouragements and donations for our friends in Nepal.
This is a collection of different emails l sent recently to friends asking for news. It reads more like a Newsletter than a quick update on the developing tragic events.
I am still spending a lot of time on the phone trying to contact the families we know in Nepal. As electricity cuts prevents mobile phones from charging, it makes it difficult and extremely frustrating however, l do manage to speak to most we know and love, and get news of the others via their network.
I can confirm that those families and their children are safe, which is not always the case elsewhere where many communities are completely wrecked.
The worst is in the countryside where houses were often old and weak.
Most have now gone... with a monsoon about to start... as if the current situation was not bad enough already!
The school we sponsor two hours away from Kathmandu has been hit but luckily only the old original part.
The new classroom block that we help build using an anti-seismic reinforced concrete structure, has only suffered minor damage. Some internal partition walls have crashed on the students desks, but can easily be rebuilt.
We are so fortunate that Saturday, the day of the first and most powerful earthquake, most students were away and the boarding children were playing outside.
Most people in the Kathmandu valley, who work and live there, come from rural areas outside the valley. Many villages, as a result, are peopled mostly by women, children and the elderly.
They hear that many of their family homes have been raised to the ground.
The majority of these communities are very isolated at the best of times, making it difficult for aid to reach them fast.
Our glass-maker friend Bharat (some of you would have met him at the galleries) his wife and little boy are safe amongst the mayhem in Kathmandu, and so is our silversmith friend Krishna and many of "our group". Most of their relatives in the villages made it, but not all.
At the moment, like millions of Nepalis, they camp outside under plastic or tin with the bare minimum, sharing with others the little they still have.
Bharat told me they had 96 tremors during the first 72 hours after the original devastating quake - and by tremors we do not mean little shakes like we get here in UK. It has been raining heavily yesterday.
The moral, so far, is good for all these desperately positive people, but it is not the case for most of their families and relatives in the country side.
Bharat's village and neighbouring communities close to the epicentre have been completely destroyed. The same is for many of our other friends' relatives. Travel and communication are difficult.
Raju's home and village have completely gone with some loss of lives amongst distant relatives.
I just try to imagine how he feels so far away here with us in England.
He is such a discreet and positive soul.
Although relief is coming, l know by experience that children are the ones who are suffering the most.
They are shocked and rely on adults for reassurance and for a "normal life" to come back.
Many are traumatised as they are too young to understand.
As the parents scramble in the rubble of their home salvaging what they can to eat and try to erect a makeshift shelter before the monsoon hits them, children are "in the way".
The ideal would be, in the countryside in particular, to set up camps and make sure children are gathered and safe away from the parents, so they can be distracted and have a semblance of normality whilst the parents rebuild.
A plastic or tin roof and some minders providing food for the community would do to start with, if the local school has already gone which in many cases it has.
For this they need funds and the practicality of getting such materials in remote areas is a huge undertaking.
Of course people will try to rebuild their homes as rapidly as they can.
I perfectly know that in Nepal, especially rural Nepal, most do not have bank accounts or access to bank loans at the 'reasonable' rates of currently between12% and 16%.
Many will have to rely on money lenders to provide quick cash at interest rates between 30% and 50%, sometimes higher.
For some of the weakest, this will cost dearly and may rob them of the little security they have.
I have seen it happen too many times, bailing out some families with long term interest-free loans.
Although I am sure some of the financial Aid coming in will be made to good use, corruption is not localised to some African countries.
Nepal has its fair share of financial scandals operating with impunity.
It would be nice to know cash or vital materials are reaching those who need it most, but l really cannot see postmen delivering cash in envelopes in remote areas.
Like you, many of my friends and clients are asking how they can help.
"Long term" is important and cash without strings to buy building material will be needed to get the poorest in the communities back on their feet.
As most people have lost their homes, the problem is enormous.
Sponsoring a whole village and rebuilding its dwellings would be fabulous but will not happen soon.
Of course everybody wants a reinforced concrete home that is more likely to withstand chronic earthquakes in the region.
Often the reason that the young, especially men, move to cities or accept to work in Middle-Eastern countries in often terrible conditions, is that they can buy and transport the expensive materials to build such structures for their families.
The few houses that are still standing, especially in remote areas, are mostly these.
I propose to help build at least one solid (anti-seismic reinforced concrete pillar system) Community Centre / Health Post, that would very likely be the most resistant and the safest place in Etay, the small rural community I have known for many years.
Another important point, in my nearly 40 years experience of Nepal and its customs, this would also minimise jealousy between families and different Castes regarding who gets help and who does not.
Many of you are already aware that we sponsor the long term Education and Health of 10 children from very disadvantaged backgrounds.
Trust me when l say that it is a very hard not to take on any more vulnerable children at present. Only the insufficient funds stop me.
I do not feel confident about guarantying long term stability and commitment with the moneys we raise at the moment.
In a village where the whole mountain has no water at all, but where the land is cheap, people only grow one mean crop of maize a year, straight after the monsoon season.
You sponsored the cement and materials for Ishwor's father to build a 7000 litres rain water tank. The family can now grow vegetables all year round and buy goods they cannot grow by selling surplus.
To make more difference where it really matters, we need your help. Regular contributions, even small, soon mount up, and for a small Charity like Alain Rouveure Nepal Fund, it is vital.
Our UK registered Charity incurs next to no costs for administration.
Because I travel and work in Nepal twice a year for my Cotswolds galleries, usually staying an average of 3 months each time, the expenses are kept to a minimum.
I pay for my stay and plane tickets myself, as I have always done since 1979.
l have always used my personal money and The Alain Rouveure Galleries’s profits go into the Nepal Fund for social care in Nepal.
“Our world is a small world and it feels smaller as we travel and meet others who, at first, often seem so different to us but deep down are the same.
Most of us would like to help those who are less fortunate than us achieve goals that, we in the West, take for granted like Education and Health.
I feel it is our duty to help each other, where-ever we find ourselves in the world, as we see others help us in our hours of need. “
Thank you again for your support and your best wishes on behalf of our beautiful friends and their children in Nepal.
All the very best to you too,
UK Registered charity No. 1166353