Firsthand Account from Nepal

Tenzin Dolma's account of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal


Photos from Tenzin Dolma

Below is an inspiring and heartbreaking account just received from our adopted daughter in Nepal, Tenzin Dolma, who went through Thrangu Rinpoche’s school in Kathmandu. If people want to donate through Thrangu Rinpoche’s own efforts, they can send a cheque to Namo Buddha Foundation, PO BOX 46898 STN. D., Vancouver, BC V6J 5M4, Canada, marked Nepal Earthquake Relief in the memo section of the cheque. None of the funds are going to Thrangu Rinpoche’s own projects but all are designated for the remote Himalayan villages hardest hit and are immediately deposited and reliably transmitted to Nepal – used exactly as described below. -Tashi Colman

Dear family,

As an overdue photo report of our effort to bring supplies to Phulping villages, we are relieved to report again that the first batch of supplies reached Phulping before the road was cut off again by massive landslides triggered by the 7.3 earthquake. But again, gloom looms ahead forcing us to only imagine the aftermath to an already fragile landscape and livelihood.

Our slow ride out of Kathmandu on May 8th, through the hills provided us alarming scenes of destruction, magnifying at Sukute where everything had broken down. The road ahead provided no better solace as landslides and rock falls have turned the region into a site of carnage, discernible from the complete destruction of houses and vehicles, and the strong decaying smell. There were numerous police check points where the same set of questions were asked. Who? Where? What? Why? They gave less hassle to privately catered supplies. We saw quite a few presence of Chinese police and construction workers with their bulldozers clearing the road. On the way, we saw even the Nepalese police themselves sleeping in Chinese donated tents and we thought how weak, disorganized and corrupted our government was with all those monetary donations, supplies, tents, tarps coming in from various different countries. What happened to them? People who needed the most in the remote areas apparently haven’t received them.

Finally we reached our last stop on the road called Khokundol around 11:30 am, which was greeted with alarming cloud of dust from the hill that formed the backdrop of the ‘under-construction’ customs buildings. We quickly unloaded the supplies and arranged lunch for the volunteers. No sooner did we sit to eat, a strong aftershock brought our hearts to our throats. With nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, we saw for ourselves the suffering people there might have gone through during the massive quakes. After the not so funny lunch break, we sketched our plans for the next day and scattered to trek up the hills for different villages, both to spread word of the supplies and to find safer places to spend the night. Prior to that a team member (Pasang Srp) had already left for the villages to inform people about the supplies.

In the villages, houses were crumbled down to nothing, some were barely standing, all in all extremely unsafe even to dig for any useful belongings left. We saw people’s faces covered in despair and misery. My second sister’s house was the sole house in the region with very little damage (wooden one story house) built about 15 years ago. She was hosting people from four different families and their belongings. Everyone else was living in makeshift steel sheet shelters they prepared themselves. In the fields, we could see wheat and barley ready to harvest but people had no safe place to store their grains they worked hard for. The soon approaching monsoon will make their lives only harder.

With all communication medium damaged, they had no way to contact outside even during emergency. We felt their helplessness strongly in our hearts. The government flew no helicopter in those villages for emergency rescue let alone food supplies. They could only see going to other villages. We smelled dirty politics.

In Kathmandu, we had decided to distribute supplies to all nine wards of Phulping VDC consisting of 783 households (2011 Census). So we divided the supply in two groups based on the geographical location: Phulping and Narayanthan region. An inclusive household list was prepared by local representatives prior to the distribution. On the 9th, people began to descend as early as six in the morning. Some had walked three hours downhill on treacherous paths (due to landslide and rock falling) to take back the supplies. By nine, the distribution went in full swing which lasted a couple of hours. The villagers were happy not just to get the supplies but also to see and hear from their fellow neighbors on the other side of the hills. Almost everyone made it on time to receive their portion but unfortunately the supply ran out towards the end. They were also very happy to have such a calm and relaxed distribution as opposed to the previous ones. We knew from the people that just a day before we got there they received some supplies from Baglung youth club. From the government, a sack of white flour plus a sachet of cooking oil was distributed only on the 14th day after the EQ. Quite impressive! Our team distributed a box of instant noodles, 5kg white flour, soaps (both washing and bathing), matchsticks and a pack of chili powder each for a household, and a limited number of battery powered torch lights (for the elderly). Since we came in coordination with another group (coordinated by Sang Dorje) who was bringing rice, our team decided not to bring rice. The quick happy hours of distribution ended with the locals presenting ‘khatas’ to the volunteers. After lunch, we drove back to Kathmandu as our fellow villagers climbed uphill with supplies to the destroyed and not so safe villages in height.

Thank you to all the kind contributors who made those supplies possible. Most donations were from monks at Thrangu Monastery, others from Thrangu former monks, Amy Simper in coordination with MFKF foundation, Namo Buddha Monastery, two nuns from Thrangu Tara Abbey, and a few locals from various places. The donation list has been circulated digitally among Thrangu Monastery staff. Thank you to you all. Heartfelt thank you to Thrangu Monastery for letting us take your two trucks along with the very brave driver (Ram dai). Thank you to all the team members and back stage volunteers for your dedication to help our villages. Photo credits Phurwa Dhondup. Thank you to those of you who are fundraising abroad: Kkarma Pawo Sherab, Sangmo, Dawa Dolma, Karma Tsewang. Thank you to all who donated. We are now planning our second project to bring more supplies and possibly donate (for future) to rebuild the local schools and monastery and also help financially to families who lost their loved ones due to the EQ. Donations have started coming in for our second project. Thank you to Emily Keast and Dan’s family, Gyalpo Dolpotsang Cheryl Ivie Hudry Georges for your contributions for our second project. Also thank you to all the family and friends around the world for your love, support and prayers at this time of devastation for Nepal.

-Tenzin Dolma