Here is a letter that we were encouraged to share about the work being done in Nepal. Hope you find it as informative as I did.
Hope you all had a good weekend. The Disaster Response Team have had a very busy weekend as the new MAF- led helicopter response facility opened for business. So far 24 NGOs and organisations have registered to use the service, and the team are working flat out trying to book and plan these essential and often life changing flights for these dedicated organisations trying to bring help, hope and healing to the many remote villages cut off from food, shelter and medical help. Tomorrow, Tuesday 12 May, the team have already booked over 16 hours of flying , which is a huge amount and indicates what a vital service we are offering.
One great example of the difference these helicopters are making is shared by David Couzens, from Tearfund, whose team wanted to head north to Rasuwa, an area very badly hit by the earthquake with a landscape changed beyond recognition and a devastated and displaced community, in order to assess the needs. It is the worst affected district according to UN calculations with nearly 82 per cent of households damaged to some degree. He said:
“We’re using MAF to get there because to be honest there would be no other way of getting there. It would take us about a day to drive there and about another day to walk in. So this is saving a huge amount of time and enabling us to get to some of the really distant, far off places. We were looking to get to Rasuwa and we weren’t quite sure how and then the email came in saying you (MAF) were open and operational and so we jumped in the car and drove straight to your offices and I think we were there just as you were opening the door so we were first in the queue probably. It’s made a huge difference and saved a vast amount of time.”
On Saturday, MAF Communications Officer on the ground in Nepal, LuAnne Cadd, was able to join a helicopter flight with United Mission to Nepal (UMN) (see website – http://www.umn.org.np/)
UMN strives to address root causes of poverty as it serves the people of Nepal in the name and spirit of Jesus Christ. Established in 1954, UMN is a cooperative effort between the people of Nepal and a large number of Christian organisations from nearly 20 countries on 4 continents. Multicultural teams of Nepali nationals and volunteer expatriate staff work alongside local organisations in less developed areas of the country, building partnerships that lead to healthy, strong and empowered individuals, families, and communities. Click here to read just some of what UMN is doing in Nepal toward the earthquake relief: http://www.umn.org.np/earthquake-action
LuAnne was able to spend time with Silas Tamang, who is Nepalese and a Christian – making him a minority in Nepal, but not in the district of Dhading where his family has lived for generations. He hails from a tiny village north of Dhading town called Tenchet that was perched precariously on a steep mountainside, as are most villages in this region.
On 25 April, most of the village’s 23 homes collapsed or vanished into the deep ravine from a landslide. Miraculously, only four of 105 villagers died but the people who once lived there now have nothing. They have lost every possession they ever had, including their animals.
Silas works for a local NGO that partners with United Mission to Nepal (UMN), working to address the root causes of poverty and serve the people of Nepal in the name and spirit of Christ. On Saturday, the first day that the MAF-managed helicopter relief flights began operations in Nepal, UMN arranged to fly Silas and packages of relief food into the isolated village of Jharlang that had a flat area large enough to land the small helicopter. Silas knew most of the people who crowded around him when he arrived. He calls them ‘family’.
Most of the people who sat on the ground watching the heavy bags filled with lentils, salt, beaten rice, and dried noodles off-loaded from the helicopter had lost their homes. They came here to wait, hoping for any kind of help. Most are living under a tarp or in a cowshed if it is still standing. In the last two weeks, they buried and mourned their dead: 18 in Jharlang, 26 in Chamthali, 14 in Lapa, 74 in Ree VDC, a small administrative district. The lists go on. The numbers may sound minimal, but for many of the small villages that have little more than 100 people, the lives lost total a large percentage of their entire population.
In normal times, from Dhading, the main town in the region, it could take five to eight hours to the end of a very rough road, plus one to two days of hiking to reach Jharlang. There are no roads into these villages. In the previous week, UMN learned that the walking bridge that crosses the deep canyon was damaged in the earthquake. Apparently, if one is brave enough, Silas said, it might be possible to cross by hanging onto the remaining cables. Carrying large bags of food, however, would be impossible.
When UMN heard about the subsidised helicopter flights, it changed everything. They booked flights immediately and were able to fly three loads of food into both Jharlang and nearby Lapa. What was impossible could now be accomplished in just a few hours.
Jerry Clewett, UMN’s Technical Director said: “Without those helicopters, we could not reach those villages. The last two days we’ve been using those helicopters first of all to take people to help with the organisation of the distribution and to access the conditions there and then to take goods. Without the helicopter, those villages would have nothing as far as we’re aware, so these can be real lifesavers. For UMN we’re very grateful for the partnership with MAF.”
Please find attached a photo of Silas (top) helping to unload food supplies from the helicopter.
Please can you continue to pray for the MAF team in Nepal, especially for stamina and good health. They have all been working extremely hard under significant pressure firstly to get this operation up and running and now moving into next phase of meeting the busy daily needs for the service. Pray too for their families who are without them while they are serving in Nepal. Please continue to pray for the work of all those humanitarian organisations working in Nepal. Please pray that this helicopter facility will be a real blessing for them to help reach the isolated with urgently needed aid supplies and help.
Please continue to pray for the Nepali people. The death toll from the April 25 earthquake now stands at 8,019 with 17,866 people injured and 366 are still missing, according to figures from the country’s National Emergency Operations Centre who also estimate that more than 10% of the country’s homes were destroyed (299,588) or damaged (269,107). Tremors from aftershocks were still being felt as recently as Friday, when a magnitude-4.7 temblor struck south of Kodari, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Praise the Lord for the great response our fundraisers have had so far to the fundraising appeals for Nepal. After just a few days, their hard work and creative campaigns have already raised over USD $180K, so praise the Lord for his great provision and for those people who have so generously donated. Please pray for continued success so that we can raise all the money needed to carry out this vital work in Nepal.
Please feel free to share the contents of this email with supporters and prayer groups.