My first trip back to Nepal, post 2015 earthquake

In March 2015, I trekked to Everest Base Camp with an incredible group of supporters from World Vision Australia, raising more than $100,000 for women and children in Nepal. One month after I returned home to Australia, on 25 April 2017, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. Now, two years and four months on, I’ve returned to Nepal and I’m overwhelmed with emotion.

This country I love so much has been through so much in the short few years since I last visited. It’s my fourth visit to Nepal and it certainly won’t be my last. Since my first trip in 2006, I fell in love with this naturally beautiful country. The passion of the people, the rich culture and the epic natural wonders keep me coming back. I don’t know what to expect returning.

Being a World Vision Blog Ambassador and a contracting stuff member to World Vision Australia, I’ve had a lot of information about the destruction of the earthquake and how it’s impacted the communities where World Vision works. Although there has been so much done to move on, and it’s certainly what the people want, I didn’t know what the state of affairs was now. I know the funds that have been raised, the work that has been done for health, water, education and child friendly spaces. But how does that look? What is day to day life going to be like.

There_are_now_believed_to_be_2.8_million_displaced_people_from_the__nepalearthquake.__worldvisionaus_are_on_the_ground_providing_supplies_to_those_most_in_need_in_the_hardest_hit_areas_s

World Vision’s work immediately after the 2015 earthquake

My father and I will spend two weeks in Nepal. Our primary purpose for returning is to attend a conference. I’ve been going to these meetings to support my father since 2006 and this will be my 9th event. I’m also thrilled to be able to have time to visit World Vision’s office in Nepal.

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Dad and I at a conference in Bangladesh, 2011

Some of the key sites I would like to also visit during my time will be Bouddhanath, Swayambunath, PashupathiNath and Durbar Square Kathmandu. These all were impacted by the earthquake in various ways and are key cultural sites for the people here. They’re also busy tourist attractions and so I’ve seen them on a number of occasions.

I didn’t actually think much about my return to Nepal in the lead up. Busy with work and day to day life, I didn’t realise until I spoke at the Country Women’s Association of Australia in early July about Nepal, how much the trip meant. Perhaps I’ve been actively putting it out of my mind.

Finally, when the day came to head to Nepal, I felt excited. Nepali words were drifting into my mind and I couldn’t wait to enjoy some momos and dal bhat for dinner! On the plane ride into Kathmandu, I caught the first glimpse of those famous mountains and the steep hills at their base. The cloud cover shadowed the peaks but the valleys below were clear. I got choked up as memories rushed back into my mind and the differences I may encounter upon my return were rapidly approaching. It’s amazing how one scene can bring so much emotion. And this is before we’d even hit the ground!

I plan to write daily diaries of my time in Nepal. Reflections at the time of what I’m seeing and doing and the comparison to my past trips in the country I love so much.

You can also follow me on Instagram at @Lovellyem where I’ll be posting A LOT of photos of my experience there. I’ve created the #tag #Lovellynepaltrek for when Dad and I trek from Lukla to Namche Bazaar in the second week of our trek.

 

My Top 6 photos from reaching Everest Base Camp

I guess I’ve held off on posting these since the terrible devastation that was the #nepalearthquake. I had planned to write post after post about my experience and share my story of reaching Everest Base Camp with Team World Vision Australia in March 2015. But 3 weeks after I returned… disaster struck and my focus was changed.

As the Nepalese people begin to gain some strength and encourage tourists to go to Nepal and see their beautiful country, I want to share some of my most special moments.

I advise checking with companies such as Royal Mountain Travel for the possibilities of safe travel and locations that are accessible. It’s best to be safe but I hope that sooner rather than later people can return to see the beauty in the people and the country that is Nepal.

My Top 6 from my Trek to Everest Base Camp with World Vision Australia. 

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#everestbasecamptrek2015 we’re so close now…. 🙂

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The view out my window the morning of trekking to #everest from #Lobuche … Yes! #icicles -19!!! #everestbasecamptrek2015

Jumping_for_joy_over__prayerflags_at__everestbasecamp___worldvisionaus__98_000_raised___inspiredadventures_thank_you___everestbasecamptrek2015

Jumping for joy over #prayerflags at #everestbasecamp! @worldvisionaus $98,000 raised! @inspiredadventures thank you! #everestbasecamptrek2015

Reaching__everestbasecamp_with_the_best__Nepalese_guides_ever_____worldvisionaus__inspiredadventures

My incredible guides from Royal Mountain Travel Amar, Gopal and Bikram! We can’t do it without these amazing guys! Namaste and Dhan ya vaad.Welcome_to_my_mountains__Represent__worldvisionaus_._Between__Lobuche____gorekshep__everestbasecamptrek2015

Welcome to my mountains! Represent @worldvisionaus . Between #Lobuche &#gorekshep#everestbasecamptrek2015Team__worldvisionaus__inspiredadventures__everestbasecamptrek2015_we_did_it___

Team @worldvisionaus @inspiredadventures #everestbasecamptrek2015 we did it!!!

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Here is the whole #WorldVision #EverestBaseCampTrek2015 team standing proudly at their goal – 5,360m up in the #Himalayas! The team raised over $100,000 for World Vision’s work in #Nepal – an incredible achievement!@inspiredadventures

The devastation in Nepal continues – how can we help?

To my great dismay, there has been yet another devastating earthquake in Nepal. As the relief and recovery efforts were in full swing this just adds another dimension to the tragedy and makes relief efforts even more urgent.

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World Vision Australia are on the ground meaning they are able to be more responsive to the needs of those most affected by the earthquakes. Sadly this is not an isolated incident as earthquakes of various magnitudes have been felt fairly consistently in the capital, mountains and surrounds over the past few weeks.

Read more about the relief efforts of World Vision Australia here. 

You can DONATE and support relief efforts in Nepal with World Vision here. They are distributing water, tents, tarpaulins, blankets and food.

Photo by Jan Møller Hansen

Photo by Jan Møller Hansen

The Telegraph in the UK has published an article on The Future of Tourism in Nepal. This too has been a massive fear of mine since the earthquakes occurred. Also since being there in just March of this year, I’m feeling an extremely close connection. It’s hard to imagine how they can recover from this with one of the largest sources of revenue for the country, tourism being slowed to a halt. Also, the city of Kathmandu serves as a hub for mountaineers and travellers coming in. The attracting being the rich cutlery and history of the city. These buildings now lay in ruins. Some areas such as Bhaktapur, which was largely made up of red brick and wood buildings is so damaged, there are still people in there who it may take months to recover. I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the destruction these people are facing.

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Photo by Jan Møller Hansen

Through all this, the mentality and spirit of the people I know in Nepal, they persevere. They are a strong and resilient people. They have a strong sense of community and are helping one another and reaching out the world to join in and help.

I hope once we hear that it is clear, tourists will know the impotence of visiting and how much there is to Nepal – outside of the temples, cultural structures and mountains. There is a beautiful and tenacious people and one of the things I’ve loved so much about visiting over the past nine years, three times and sharing many special moments.

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My friend Bishaka is currently in Nepal, she is a woman of the country and is hurting at the sights she is seeing. She is currently in an orphanage and trying to figure out a way to help these children now and in the future after losing their families to the earthquake. They need food, shelter and in the future, education. How will they be able to recover from this and cater to so many? Together is the answer! And together with our help. It’s heartbreaking to read her updates each day and to hear of her tears, but I know she’s doing amazing work and will help so many. I’m trying to help her as much as I can.

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Photos above from Sindhupalchock, where she is currently trying to help some of the more remote villages. 

Thousands have died and many more have been injured and displaced by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal. World Vision is initially aiming to reach 100,000 people with emergency relief – you can help by supporting the Nepal Earthquake Appeal today: http://wva.me/nepal-relief

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My tears are now falling for #NepalEarthquake victims

Just watched this video and for the first time since this all happened I broke down in tears.
I just know after seeing it all so recently … How hard the recovery is gonna be. The infrastructure and the lack of local government support for the people… It just makes it all so much harder. There are expected to be upward of 5000, approaching the 10,000 mark of deaths due to this disaster. A number to a country like Australia that is unfathomable. But when you have been there, seen the densely populated city and mass of life, you can understand.
4 month baby rescued after 22 hours - sent by my friend Bishaka in Kathmandu

4 month baby rescued after 22 hours – sent by my friend Bishaka in Kathmandu

I’m happy to know world vision are there now and doing good work. But they need our help! There is hope for those who have survived and for more to be rescued. Donate here to World Vision Australia. 
This sweet simple moment with my friends in March this year. Bath time on a rooftop. So many of these homes now damaged or gone.

This sweet simple moment with my friends in March this year. Bath time on a rooftop. So many of these homes now damaged or gone.

Reading this article now about how critical the response efforts are in the first 24 hours from former Social Media Manager at World Vision Australia, Richenda Vermuelen, now Director of ntegrity!
If you work at a not-for-profit you’re the voice of the people affected. A strong plan of action is measured in hours, not days. Donor attention follows media attention, so your window of opportunity is likely to last only one week (168 hours). Make it count.”
It’s so important we get behind these not for profits.
My friend Bishaka, I met her in Scotland in 2014, is currently in KAthmandu. She has a brother in hospital and her nephew (8 years old pictured below) is also receiving treatment for wounds. She has sent most of her family off to India for safety. She’s sending me photos of scenes and it’s hard to hold back the tears. I am being strong but I just cannot imagine the situation she is in. She’s trained in emergency situations and hopes to get out to more rural areas once they can find a way to travel their as access is the main issue. I will continue to share her stories. This morning she was messaging as 11 more aftershocks came… this is happening through the day and night.
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Another story of a local, shared by World Vision Australia and Matt Darvas is Kumar Gurung, who watched his village be devastated by the #nepaearthquake:
Kumar’s story.
Kumar’s own family – comprised of his 37-year-old wife, 12-year-old daughter, 3 sons age 16, 10 and 8 years were inside the house eating their lunch at the time of the quake. As the walls started to shake, they quickly ran from the house which collapsed immediately behind them. – See more at: http://blog.worldvision.com.au/a-state-of-helplessness-kumar-bahadur-gurung/?source=FB_NON_280415#sthash.J2eyCZQX.dpuf”
I pray for all these people of Nepal. My memories are nothing but fondness, hope and beauty from this nation. It’s so sad to believe that they are currently living in such a state of terror.
Team World Vision in March 2015 before our #Everestbasecamptrek2015. Standing in Durbar Square, Kathmandu.

Team World Vision in March 2015 before our #Everestbasecamptrek2015. Standing in Durbar Square, Kathmandu.

It’s so surreal to have been standing in this spot, just a month ago, in the heart of a bustling ancient city… and for now it to be reduced to rubble. The rich cultural heritage of the city will be hard to repair… but the lives that have been lost are simply irreplaceable.
A photo of Bouddahnath and friends in March... it's now a crumbled mess.

A photo of Bouddahnath and friends in March… it’s now a crumbled mess.

Matt Darvas in Gorkha, Nepal, sharing his experience of #NepalEarthquake

Some huge updates and news coming in from Gorka, Nepal, from Matt Darvas. Working with INF and World Vision Australia. Read the words from Matt.

To support World Vision Australia in Nepal, please donate here!

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UPDATE – It’s now 4:30 AM here in Gorkha, Nepal. Managed to sleep well for a few hours this morning though I slept under a tarp in an open field infront of government HQ with villagers afraid to sleep in homes. We had 2 tremors that woke me last night but no damage from them here. My focus today is on continuing to share the story from here, which is that more than 2 DAYS after the quake, there are many villages near my current location where no rescue teams have been able to land despite there being people buried under rubble with up to 70-90% of homes completely destroyed in those villages worst hit. This is because they DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT HELICOPTERS or rescue teams here yet. I can’t tell if that’s because those resources are genuinely unavailable or because they are being focused on Kathmandu and trekkers stuck around Everest etc. Whatever the case, the world needs to get those specialist resources here now where the death toll is certainly set to rise dramatically in coming days.

Driving into Gorkha

Driving into Gorkha

PLEASE PRAY – that the world would get this message from Gorkha and that I may be effective in helping to share. Pray for strength and wisdom as to how to best act and thank God I’ve somehow kept full 3G reception to keep doing live video interviews with world media. I am truly seeing God guide my efforts far far beyond what I could possibly imagine to achieve by myself and just trying to be a faithful witness to Jesus love amongst these devastated and scared people. God has not forgotten these people buried and trapped in the remote villages around me and nor can we.

Gorkha yesterday

Gorkha yesterday

AND please pray for my beautiful wife Brittany Darvas and daughter who are safe in Pokhara and starting to help neighbours there. In many ways it’s harder for Britt back there without me and looking after Zippy though we have wonderful Nepali and foreigner friends looking after them.

MSF arrives

MSF arrives

There’s also an update from Brittany, Matt’s wife in Pokhara, Nepal.

UPDATE: It’s 10pm here and we’ve just had yet another aftershock, almost 60 hours after the earthquake! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement, especially with Matt away! Zipporah and I are doing ok, but obviously still stressed and anxious.

Today we took some supplies up to the house of our milkman, who lives in a village on the hillside next to Pokhara, as his house and many others there are either in ruins or are cracking so they’re having to sleep outside!

Thanks to Lucy for keeping me company (and sane) tonight!

Please continue to pray for Matt , for safety and strength and energy as he has been working day and night!

On a slightly humorous note, not letting Zippy out of arms length means I’ve had to sit her in the highchair in the bathroom when I’m on the toilet, which she finds hilarious!

po pok pokh

Lots of media and interviews today – tune in and check out the clips. Will share more updates where possible.

5:45 AM Nepal Time, 10.00 AM AEST – BBC five LIVE

6:00 AM Nepal Time, 10.15 AM AEST – MSNBC

6:30 AM Nepal Time, 10.45 AM AEST ABC News

7:00 AM Nepal Time, 11.15 AM AEST – Fox TV Australia

7:45 AM Nepal Time, 12 PM AEST- msnbc

8:15 AM Nepal Time, 12.30 PM AEST, ITV Good Morning Britain interview

10:15 AM Nepal Time, 2.30 PM AEST 702 ABC Sydney

21:15PM Nepal Time, 1.30AM AEST – CNN

Posted by Emma Lovell on behalf of Matt Darvas. International Media please contact diwa.aquino.gacosta from World Vision International on Skype. For Australian enquiries, please contact gabrielle.brophy@worldvision.com.au

My heart goes out to Nepal after the devastation of the earthquake

Devastating news yesterday and further this morning as I learn that the country so close to my heart, Nepal, is in mourning. 1800 lives lost and counting as a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Kathmandu, Pokhara and other regions of Nepal. My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones and the citizens of Nepal who are as we speak trying to manage the chaos.

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These beautiful historic cities now in ruins

It was just one month ago that I was in Nepal trekking to Everest Base Camp with World Vision Australia and Inspired Adventures. We loved exploring the city of Kathmandu and then trekking through the serene and peaceful mountains. Sadly it also looks like 18 people have died on Mt Everest due to an avalanche – part of the Base Camp was buried. The peaceful and comforting place for so many is now reminiscent of a war zone.

My team and I are so happy. My prayers are with those currently trekking in this region

My team and I are so happy. My prayers are with those currently trekking in this region

YOU CAN HELP!

World Vision Australia have set up a donations page for sending aid to the areas most affected. Organisations such as this need support in these times of need to help the people in these devastated countries.

http://www.worldvision.com.au/Issues/Emergencies/Current_Emergencies/7.9-magnitude-earthquake-kathmandu-nepal.aspx

Article here from The Guardian stated that 1000 people were killed. ABC News Australia have just declared it is in excess of 1800 and counting.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/apr/25/nepal-earthquake-nation-worst-tremor-80-years-kathmandu-live-updates

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More information from World Vision Australia:

The Nepal government has declared a state of disaster and has committed to respond in 13 of the worst

affected districts, including Kathmandu. Hospitals have reportedly run out of wound management kits in

the capital and hospitals in districts are struggling. Five sites have been set up to help manage impacted

families and the Indian army has been called on to provide support.

More than 4 million people are thought to be in the affected area. WVIN is praying that the death‐toll

will not climb significantly higher overnight, that aftershocks will be minimal, children will be sheltered

and protected and that relief will come quickly to the people of Nepal following this powerful tremor.

Neighbouring India and Bangladesh also reported a number of deaths and injured due to the earthquake

‐ there are no reports of ADPs affected in either country at this stage.

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WVIN currently has 73 projects managed by 205 staff. WVIN currently works through 16 Area

Development Programmes in all five development regions including 10 of the 75 districts of Nepal.

Projects in earthquake preparedness are ongoing in Lalitpur district. WVIN supports 27,000 sponsored

children with sponsors from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland,

and Taiwan. WVIN operates a budget of USD 7.1 million including projects funded by DFAT, DFID and

WFP grants.

Quotes:

Sunjuli, World Vision Nepal staff member. Her son is 9 years old — “My son is very terrified. He

does not leave me and lays on my lap. Do not know what to do. I need to go inside the house —

don’t know if it’s safe — but it’s very cold here in the car.

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Some photos from my time there, it’s changed dramatically and I fear for the people in the massive efforts it will take to clean up! Visiting my sponsor child in Nepal, Kamala. Seeing my dear friend Sundar. And trekking with amazing guides to Base Camp. My prayers are with you all at this time

IMG_1635Meeting my friend Sundar againRugged_up___ready__How_can_you_not_be_excited_when_snow___mountains_are_involved___everestbasecamptrek2015__inspiredadventures__worldvisionaus Jumping_for_joy_over__prayerflags_at__everestbasecamp___worldvisionaus__98_000_raised___inspiredadventures_thank_you___everestbasecamptrek2015 Reaching__everestbasecamp_with_the_best__Nepalese_guides_ever_____worldvisionaus__inspiredadventures The_famous_sign_Way_to__everest__was_gone____One_of_our_sherpas_found_the_misplaced_sign___our_head_guide_put_it_back_in_it_s_rightful_place__What_a_thrill_to_see_this_sign_and_be_so_close_...__everestbasecamptrek2015 Welcome_to_my_mountains__Represent__worldvisionaus_._Between__Lobuche____gorekshep__everestbasecamptrek2015