Report from Nepal Don Bosco Society

The following report outlining the work of Salesians assisting the people of Nepal in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in that country has been sent to us by Fr George Menamparampil.

Nepal Don Bosco Society continues untiringly on its mission of service to the earthquake affected. On Wednesday, 6 May, Feast of St. Dominic Savio, we reached out to 238 families in 5 villages (namely, Muldol, Khasimara, Saliang, Pyangaon, and Bulu), and distributed to them 1500 kilos (55 bags x 25kgs) of rice, 9 bags of daal (lentils), 13 bags of chiuda (beaten rice), 12 boxes of biscuits for children, 89 boxes of Wai Wai noodles.

On 7 May, we made a second visit to Tulolsilvari village in Sindhupalchok (which had visited on 29 April), and delivered rice, daal, oil, and tarpaulins. 300 bags of rice.

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On 7 May itself we had sent two truckloads of provisions and tarpaulins to Gorkha to be stored in St. Joseph’s School at Gorkha. On the next day, 8 May, we left at 6.00AM for Gorkha and reached there at 10.00AM. Upon our arrival at St. Joseph’s, Fr. Jijo, Fr. Silas (the Vicar General of Nepal Vicariate) and Fr. Dennis the Principal of St. Joseph’s went to the VDC (Village Development Committee) to get the required permissions. In the office of the VDC the Salesian priests faced much difficulty as the VDC was not willing to give the permission. Moreover, present in the office of the VDC were representatives of the various political parties of Nepal, and all of them had to consent to our distribution before the VDC could give the permission. After much argument and bargaining, the permission was finally given. In the meantime, I organized the loading of 7 tractor-trailers in the campus of ST. Joseph’s School. The total quantity of relief material was 12500 kgs (500 bags) of rice, 660kgs (22 bags) of daal, 504 litres (42 cartons) of cooking oil, 500 kgs (10 sacks) of salt, and 600 (120 bundles) of tarpaulins of 18’x15’ size. The village to which these were destined is Muchok, a mere 7 kms from the epicentre of the earthquake. Muchok has 943 families and suffered 43 deaths. We were able to set off only at 2.00PM. Four hours of bumpy ride along a mudroad in a hired four-wheel drive vehicle took us to Muchok. There were 7 of us: Fr. Jijo John, Fr. Silas, Fr. Roman Sikon from Krakow Province of Poland (a former missionary in Nepal), Sr. Aquila and Maria Ekka (FMAs) and Sr. Antoinette, CJ. The tractors had started out earlier and took 5 hours to reach there. Arriving earlier in the village, we were able to meet the villagers and listen to their stories, and see for ourselves a part of the devastation wreaked there. The only +2 level high school serving the entire region lay in utter ruins. In fact, children were leafing through the many notebooks and exam sheets lying amid the rubble. Four teachers, among the 12 in a staff meeting in the school, had died when the earthquake happened. However, when the tractors arrived at Muchok, there were only four of them. We thought the remaining three were struggling along the road. It was nearly dark when the tractors arrived, and there was no time to distribute the relief materials ourselves. So, we got the villagers to unload the tractor trailers and to stock all the materials on a cement floor. The villagers would guard it in the night, and on the following morning, the village committee would distribute it. The leaders assured us that they would distribute it equally among all, with special concern for the injured/ sick and the more needy families. The village elders were profuse in their gratitude to us, and in fact, wanted us to stay the night and share their food. They even wanted to stage a cultural programme for us in appreciation. But we had to return to Gorkha.

It was during our return journey that we found out what had happened to the three missing tractor trailers: they were high jacked en route to Muchok!! It was a scenario straight out of a James Bond thriller: the double-crossing mastermind was one who befriended us in the VDC’s Office and was very helpful in facilitating our work there, turned out to be the double agent. He knew exactly how much we were transporting, how and to where. So, he arranged for three trailers to be intercepted and redirected to where he wanted! Imagine our frustration and anger! We returned to St. Joseph’s School, Gorkha by 10.00PM. After having dinner provided by Fr. Dennis, spent the night at there. We started the return journey to Kathmandu at 5.30 AM the next day and reached Thecho by 10.00AM. We were dog tired but happy that we had made a difference, never mind the high jacked supplies. Hopefully they will serve some needy people.

On 9 May, seven tractor-trailers were loaded 12500 kgs (500 bags) of rice, 840kgs (28 bags) of daal, 600 litres (50 cartons) of cooking oil, 500 kgs (10 sacks) of salt, and 396 (33 bundles) of tarpaulins of 18’x15’ size. They were destined for Sorpani village in Gorkha district, a 5-hour drive in the general direction of yesterday’s Muchok. Sorpani has 1230 households, with nearly all houses destroyed. This relief supply was arranged at the request of Fr. Silas who had taken up the responsibility of transportation and distribution. The double-crosser high jacked three tractor-trailers again today, but they were soon recovered with police help.

On 10 May, we formed two teams: one team consisting of Fr. Tony Cherian and Fr. Jiji Kalavanal along with Mr. Purno went to Lele for a follow up visit to assess the developments, and provide psychosocial care. The opportunity was used also to gather some video footage for the proposed video log. The other team consisted of Fr. Roman, Fr. T.L. Joseph, Mr. Rajan (Advocate) and 2 FMAs went to Sarsyunkharka village in Nuwakot district (3hrs drive from Thecho). Sarsyunkharka has 1241 families and 350 houses destroyed. The team distributed rice, daal, cooking oil, salt, and tarpaulins of 18’x15’ size. Fr. Jijo attended the meeting of the Nepal Vicariate’s Core Team for Earthquake Relief.

Salesian Mission Office in Ireland

If you would like to help and make a donation for Nepal please forward your cheque or postal order with description “FOR NEPAL” to:

Fr Dan Devitt SDB
Salesian Missions,
P.O. Box 50,
Co. Limerick