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December 2015 - Update from Nepal

My Oct/Nov visit has been an opportunity for me to see how all my Sherpa friends and colleagues were recovering in the Khumbu Everest region, following the 25 April and 12 May earthquakes. The earthquakes had a severe effect in some villages and in others it was not so bad. Fortunately all my Sherpa friends and colleagues in both Kathmandu and the Khumbu are all safe and well but some are still affected by the demolition or severe damage to houses and lodges. Now, seven months after the earthquakes, some are back in repaired houses or lodges but others are still living in tents or tarpaulin corrugated sheet shelters as their houses are rebuilt.

Aftershocks are still occurring seven months after the earthquakes. However in the last two months or so there have been periods of one or two days to over a week without any aftershocks over 4 on the scale being recorded by the National Seismological Centre, of the Nepal Government, in Kathmandu, this is a good sign and we can only hope that they will come to an end soon. - Until 13 December those over 4 that have been recorded now number 418.

I was not able to go to Khumbu and up to Tengboche this visit, for a number of various reasons, during this difficult time, however, I did contact the lodges by phone and I saw one Sherpa, from Tengboche, in Kathmandu, and came up to date with everything. I was also able to contact, by phone, all my other Sherpa friends in Khumbu.

In Kathmandu the situation is very difficult with the Indian blockade causing severe shortages of fuel and causing many transport problems. this is all having a negative impact on tourism and the offices I am involved with have little or no business and are closed some days and short time other days.

Political situation:

In the last two months since I arrived in Nepal the protests, strikes and closures by Nepal political parties against the new constitution have escalated. Together with the continuing blockade by India of border crossings this has caused severe difficulties throughout Nepal with fuel and cooking gas not available and many essential food items in very short supply.

International airlines had already been told to refuel outside of Nepal because there was no aviation fuel available and from the second week of November this situation began to affect the domestic airlines also and over 50% of domestic flights are cancelled or grounded. All of this is causing more difficulties, not only for local people but also for tourism which is particularly affected, businesses are closed and the staff have no work.

In recent weeks some fuel tankers have been allowed into Nepal, but the supply is severely limited to 3 litres to a motorbike, 10 litres to a car, 15 litres to a minibus, and 30 litres to a bus. When any fuel is available long lines, several kilometres, of many hundreds of cars or busses or motorbikes can be seen waiting at the one fuel pump that will be open. The shortages are being made worse by corruption and black marketing by various people including oil company officials and tanker drivers as well as company owners. This is making fuel and cooking gas more difficult to find and many times more expensive that the people who cannot afford to buy on the black market continue to suffer.

In the few days before my scheduled departure flight 05 Dec. 2015 more trucks and tankers were getting entry so we must hope this will continue in the weeks and months ahead.

The year 2015 (Nepali year 2072) will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, it looks like continuing through to the end of Nepali year also (April 12 2016)

Nepal Trekking in Nepal:

At home in Kapan on the outskirts of Kathmandu the family is trying to carry on as normal as far as possible. Food stocks are OK for some items and others are in short supply or not available. With no gas available Yangji is cooking on a wood fire outside. When electric is available we have the rice cooker, kettle and a new electric ring. But at this time there is eight hours a day load shedding power cuts which is all adding to the difficulties.

Schools and colleges reopened after more than a month of closure after the earthquakes but now there is major problems with no fuel for school busses used to transport many students each day and the schools are closing for a week then opening again and it is all very difficult for all the students. Kunga Doma and Tshiring have missed more than three months of school and college and this will be difficult for the schools and colleges to make up, if at all.

Just a few days before I left Nepal on 05 Dec. 2015 we heard that Yangji's Mother and Father were able to move into one room of their under construction new house in Chaurikhaka village. They have been living in a tent since April so this will be good shelter as winter has already arrived in Khumbu. The rest of the house will be finished in the next few months.

As always, we are very grateful to everyone who gives us support for our work direct in Nepal. Support both financially and with the continued supply of clothing for children and adults in the villages and in Kathmandu. Good quality used clothing for children, teenagers and adults, is always required (small and medium sizes for adults) and if you can help contact us by email/phone to arrange. Direct funding is always required and I take this opportunity to thank those who responded with a donation. We are still fundraising for the Sherpa people and for Tengboche Monastery after the earthquake and again if you or your friends can assist with a donation contact Denis. Our projects are ongoing and we look forward to continued support in the months and years ahead. If you can help with any of our projects, specifically the Earthquake Funding Appeal, or if you require any further information, please contact Denis direct (email and phone details enclosed). You can Make a Difference.

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
December 201