Norwich man joins Nepal emergency relief team
Norwich Christian Eldred Willey has joined a team from international relief organisation Samaritan’s Purse in Nepal, where a deadly earthquake struck at the end of April. Keith Morris reports.
Eldred joined the Christian charity’s team in Nepal at the start of June to help respond to the earthquake disaster which has affected more than 8 million people, with 2.8 million displaced and 3.5m needing food assistance.
More than 8,700 people are known to have died with the toll rising as search and rescue crews continue to comb through the rubble of destroyed 500,000 homes and another 278,000 damaged ones.
As soon as he arrived, Eldred was sent out as an area co-ordinator to one of the remotest districts, in sight of the mountains of Tibet.
“We are staying in the only structurally sound building remaining from a town which has been largely reduced to rubble. About two-thirds of the structures still standing have been marked for demolition,” said Eldred, who is still working on the emergency relief team out in Nepal.
“The two-and-a-half hour drive from our nearest sub-base covers sections of dirt track winding around precipitous slopes. The Tarmac was long ago carried downhill by landslides; many more are expected now that the monsoon is beginning. Road travel is by far our biggest risk.
“Recently our team did a distribution in the village of Gatlang, which is scenically positioned on a small ridge between steep slopes, up which rice terraces climb. The houses were made of dry stone walling with wooden roofs, which were a wonderful attraction for tourists, but a death-trap when the earthquake struck.
“Scores of people died in this village, and when we were there a mourning ceremony snaked its way along the dirt track above. The Tamang people who live here are Buddhist, and they processed with bells and chants, the men who had been bereaved wearing ashes on their heads,” said Eldred.
“We were distributing tarpaulin to provide shelter from the imminent monsoon rains, as well as blankets, as nights at this altitude are shiveringly cold. We also gave out kitchen kits to replace the utensils, crockery and cutlery which all too often had been buried under rubble.
“In addition we are running a program to distribute Plumpy’Doz food supplement for children. People had food stored up for the monsoon rains, but much of this was lost when houses collapsed.
“It is a privilege to connect with the people of Nepal in their moment of tragedy, and to express some of the great love which Christ bears towards them,” said Eldred.
Read more about the work of Samaritan’s Purse in Nepal and find out about making a donation.
Pictured, top, is the earthquake devastation in Nepal and, above, the distribution of emergency supplies by Samaritan’s Purse personnel in Gatlang aided by Eldred Willey (on right). Pictures courtesy of Samaritan's Purse.