It’s been awhile since the last update. Monsoon season has been a difficult time without much progress in rebuilding. The rains are typically from May to September, becoming most heavy throughout June and July. By now it still rains but normally only once a day during the evenings. Working in these conditions poses significant challenges. The roads become greasy with mud and the worksites become difficult to access. The saturated ground clinging to the sides of mountains occasionally loses its fight with gravity causing landslides and washouts. In the height of the monsoon season this year, many people flooded into Kathmandu causing a new wave of refugees leaving the countryside for the relative stability of the city. There are tent cities throughout Kathmandu hosting these displaced people. Now it rains only once a day which has allowed work to continue. It will kick into high gear when it dries up by the end of September.
On Thursday, we visited the village of Kothgaon. This is a small village of about 100 families perched on a mountain ridge overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. Nearly all of the homes there are either destroyed or significantly damaged. The homes that survived were made out of concrete and rebar, although many that look fine at first glance display ominous cracks upon closer inspection. The Vineyard there has 18 families – 16 lost their homes. In the weeks after the earthquake, we built 30 temporary shelters there. 13 permanent homes are now under construction for those in greatest need. Some can afford to rebuild, others are destitute. We will help both the Vineyard families and other non-Christians in the village who cannot afford to rebuild. The same is true for the other villages in which we have churches.
We spent some time with Kaila Ama along with her son, daughter-in-law and their cute little guy. Sitting under a tarp next to their temporary tin shelter she recounted the story of what happened when her home crumbled on April 26. As she recounted her story, we sensed both gratitude and loss. She told how immediately before the earthquake there was a gust of wind, then everything started to shake violently. All the homes around her began to crumble including her own home. Two stories of brick, stone and mud mortar came crashing down behind her as she ran to the field for protection where she began to pray – apparently with some fervency. Through a small smile, she said that people thought she was crazy for kneeling in the field calling out to God like she did. She stood up and told them that she was not crazy – she was just praying to her God who she insisted would keep her and her family safe. He did.
Her countenance shifted as she told us of everything that was lost. What hurt the most wasn’t the loss of property, but the loss of memories. She lost a house, but she also lost a home in which she had lived for a very long time. Clutching her grandson, she told how her family had grown up there, and that her husband had died there a year ago. The earthquake took many memories that day, and we could tell this is what pained her the most. As we sat with this dear sister in her makeshift shelter we cried, overwhelmed with both gratitude that her life was spared but grieving with her all the losses. Together we prayed for healing and God’s presence to continue to envelop her as she moves into her new home in a few weeks.