Wednesday, May 27, 2015

This was then...this is now

"Life is getting back to normal", " we will rebuild stronger and better", this is the words we tell each other, this is the words we say to keep going. But life will never be the same again, everything is changed, and we need to face and accept the fact. Normal? What was normal life in Nepal? If some new comers to Nepal come and discover the country on top of the world, those aware of the local situation know that the problems here are nothing new. If many people are still in need of urgent help, the actual re-building will take many years. So for those that feel that time is running out, stop worrying, worry does not help anything. There is plenty of time, same same but diferent as they say here. The shelter and the food situation is just the visible part, the questions are much much deeper than mere food and shelter, even if food and shelter is always the basic start, it is just a start. The people that are in most dificult situation now are the same that had the hardest life yesterday. "Aphno manche" the nepale moto of working only with one's own group is put on trial by the current events...

Meanwhile, the moonsson approaches. By the time it is here, most of the smaller groups donation boxes will be empty. The distribution of supplies and food is a logistic nightmare on the land. The bureaucracy still as enefficient as ever. If some nepales are growing united through this drama, many are back to it's usual aphno manche and mistrust of each other, so goes the nepale way.
The government has made a fund to give 15000 rupees (150 euros) to each family with a broken house. Some villages receive this help and still collect help from private groups that come to help. Others receive no help at all. Some nepales themselves already complain about some of the villagers attitude, they sit in the broken down villages, just waiting for help. They sit and they wait. In "normal" times, it is planting time, but many simply sit and wait for others to rebuild their lives. Even if the trauma factor has to be taken into consideration, another important factor is the way the help is being distributed to those that need it. "We are just poor nepale, we can not do anything for ourselves" is another nepale moto of the uneducated that will have to change.

Volunteers team already make plans. The plan is go bring the building materials, show villagers how to build a simple zinc roof shelter, and let the villagers build by themselves.
The building materials will be left on site, they can later dismantle and built more appropriate and long term solutions. The villagers have to take responsabilities for the rebuilding of their own communities. The same problem that existed before the quake is still the same after the quake, nothing has changed here, and the so called "help" being given has to be more than ever seriously considered. The volunteers and other foreign well whishers, often do more damage than they realize with the "help" they offer. Rarely do they actually take a minute to listen and learn what is the reality on the land they want to help during their hollidays. Rares are those that come back years laters and check on the long terms effects of their actions. If the old saying goes "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" Nepal is a perfect place to study this in action and it's consequences. There was millions of helping groups then, and there will be triple amounts now. But what help do they actually give is a question of the day.

This emotional response to the disaster reminds me of the time in Europe before Xmass. For tv's and other media, Xmass is a time to show the poor and the homeless's suffering. For a couple weeks, people's heart get filled with some compassion, and for a couple weeks they help the suffering ones. Then the holliday season passes, most people forget, they get back to their "normal" lives until next media coverage. But the same suffering ones suffered before and they still suffer after. The people who year long do action to help the suffering ones keep on doing what they believe in, even when the media does not have eyes on them. You will rarely hear about, yet they are there, whole year, year after year, doing their work. So, yes, there is a crisis in Nepal, but the actual crisis is simply shedding a light on the many questions which Nepal already had before the quake.
This will be a hard year for Nepal. Moonssoon will put everything to stop, and the landslides and inondations will take a few more villages down. The media will show pics of the drama, as if it's new, even if every year same happens. The people of Kathmandu are holding on to  a cicty that has dramatically changed, and that will take a few years to recover it's past glory. People there will walk in dangerous ruins for quite a few monthes to come, the mind, the same broken lanscape as the city. This will take a long time, this will take years, this changes everything. It will take time to even start digesting the fact, that it is not only houses that have to be rebuild, it's an entire nation, it's whole lives that have to be reinvented in order to keep on living. If getting back to "normal" is getting back to same old Nepal, then the work from before the quake remains exactly the same and nothing will actually change. If Nepal is ready for Naya Nepal, then; Nepalese have to seriously look at the country.
This was then, this is now... youth and other nepales have to ask themselves: what changes would you like to see for Naya Nepal?

Related article: a story behind the orphenages scam, in french.
Pictures from Once upon a time in Kathmandu...

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