The massive earthquake of 7.8 Richter scale on 25th April 2015, 6.9 Richter scale on 26th April 2015 and hundreds of aftershock thereon, has caused a great damage to Nepal with an initial estimation of government more than 6,500 people lost their lives till day, close to 15,000 accidents, around 150,000 houses being completely destroyed and about 1.4 million people are in basic needs of food daily. All in all, about 8 million people have been affected by the earthquake. Of the 75 districts in Nepal, 14 districts have been affected, which include the capital region and nearby hilly and mountainous districts of central Nepal.
Sri Sathya Sai International Organisation of Nepal (SSION) has started service right from 25th April 2015 evening starting an immediate service of providing food and shelter to victims. From 26th April 2015, for next 5 days, SSION started serving food to victims including hospital patients, their caretakers, doctors and other staffs in the different hospitals of Kathmandu. Homeless individuals staying in tents and tarpaulins were also fed with meals as they feared to go inside their homes due to constant jolt and tremor. Nearly, 6000 meals were supplied every day. Since, 28th April 2015, the SSION has been constantly undertaking service to the village areas of 10 districts out of 14 affected districts.
During a village service, in a preliminary visit, it was identified that in a few places people have not had their single meal since earthquake. Thus, in those areas, the priority was set to go forth with cooked meals and serve hot khichdi (an item prepared by mixing rice and pulses). Subsequently, the food provisions, clean drinking water, hygiene needs and medical camps are carried to devastated areas on a need basis.
The modality of operation has been such that, if a certain place is reported to have not been provided with any relief package, the small group of Sai volunteers visit with basic food snack packets. The place is visited to identify the required service in a particular region, derive the potential recipients and serve the particular village / area in a subsequent day. However, in case of far rural villages which is not connected by roads and required to walk several hours off the road, the service is carried out directly. In a village service, priority is given to post maternity mothers, chronic patients and old people.
Sai volunteers have been packing two kinds of food and provisions for a relief package. A first kind include snacks items containing about 2 kg of beaten rice / puffed rice, 2 packs of chauchau (ready to eat dry noodles), 2 packs biscuits and jaggery (raw sugar sweets). The second kind include, about 5 kgs of rice, 1 kg of pulses, half kg of salt, half liter of cooking oil, turmeric powder. However, in some cases, grams/peas, potatoes and spices are also added considering the area of service. Around, 750 such relief packages are being distributed every day. In total 500 Sai volunteers are actively participating in relief service.
The health and hygiene has been another focus of the relief service. Several medical camps are being carried out in affected areas. General health checkup and basic medicines are being distributed to the victims. Apart from giving basic instructions to adopt general hygiene measures, victims have been distributed water purifying tablets/drops are distributed after disseminating proper instructions of usage so that, the victims have potable water for a longer period.
Considering areas and cases, items such as mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets, clothes, baby blankets, sanitary pads, utensils, toiletries, mask and bleaching powder are also being distributed. The major and commonly demanded supply materials include tarpaulins for temporary shelter. But, due to its scarcity in local market, the SSION has been able to distribute only 2,000 of tarpaulins so far. However, the demand remains much higher of the same. Efforts are being made to procure more tarpaulins to meet the immediate need.
Considering the enormity of service opportunities, SSION has developed decentralized service centers for rural penetration. Altogether, 15 service centers have been formed culminating different sai centers such that each service center focuses on an affected district or part of the district. All 14 affected districts have been devised in such a manner that service is not only concentrated to easily accessible areas but goes to interior rural that require several hours of trail to reach. An office bearer is assigned as an in charge for each service center, who is responsible for coordinating with central office for need assessment, supplies, human resources and feedback.
Till date, it being only 6 days since the earthquake, the efforts are concentrated for immediate relief to feed the starved, quenched the thirsty and provide a ceiling between human heads and open skies. Analyzing the current situation, the rescue÷ relief stage will continue for a couple of months and these needs to be followed with a systematic rehabilitation program in days to come. As we type this report, we are still feeling aftershocks of the earthquake. To subside the current situation, some of the Sai Youths are chanting Rudram collectively every morning. May Bhagawan Bless us all!