Aid organizations working furiously to help Nepal earthquake victims

May 4, 2015 • Asia • Calgary Herald

A Samaritan's Purse staff member from Calgary reports that relief efforts in Nepal are progressing as well as can be expected in the earthquake-ravaged country

Above: Bruce Piercey, Samaritan’s Purse director of Middle East and Asia

Written by Erika Stark
Published by Calgary Herald on Monday, May 4, 2015

To an outside observer, it looks like utter chaos.

A country trying to clean up from a devastating earthquake that took the lives of thousands. Survivors trying to find food and shelter before monsoon season. Hundreds of aid workers flying in and distributing supplies wherever they can.

That’s how Bruce Piercey describes the scene in Kathmandu, Nepal this week, just days after the deadly quake.

The regional director of Eurasia for Samaritan’s Purse Canada arrived in Kathmandu on Monday, diverted from his plans to travel home to Calgary from the Middle East after hearing the news.

And while the first week after a natural disaster is chaos, Piercey says recovery efforts in the mountainous country are going well.

So far, the organization has flown in a 20 member Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that will work with local agencies, and landed a cargo jet in Kathmandu filled with 40 tonnes of relief supplies: blankets, tents, clean water, hygiene items, cooking kits, and plastic sheeting for emergency shelters.

They’ve distributed 18 tonnes of emergency food and established a mobile medical clinic in the Gorkha and Nuwakot regions.

“Given the geological challenges and the topography of the land, it’s going amazingly well,” he told the Herald Saturday night from a base set up in Kathmandu by Samaritan’s Purse.

He likened the challenges of distribution to trying to provide food to 200 people living above the tree line in Banff and Jasper national parks, with only one dirt road. Advance teams have to travel to villages to determine the needs of the residents before food, blankets and medical supplies are brought in, and some people have walked for days to get what they need.

With about a month left until monsoon season, the need for adequate shelter is that much more urgent.

“It’s like one of those thundershowers in Calgary, but it goes for three days,” Piercey described.

Samaritan’s Purse has been distributing plastic, UV resistant sheeting for emergency shelters, which can be constructed with local bamboo.

Amidst the chaotic efforts spectres of the quake, such as aftershocks, remain.

“People are very jittery,” Piercey said, recalling a day when he experienced a small aftershock at the airport. “Everyone froze and looked at the ceiling. People are very frightened.”

“The other thing you see is shock,” he added. “People just-they know what it’s going to take to put their lives back together.”

For more information and to make a donation, visit the Samaritan’s Purse website.

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