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Our one day old baby boy ! Nepal's future

We wish to thank everyone who has contacted us with their best wishes of encouragements and donations for our friends in Nepal.
This is a collection of different emails l sent recently to friends asking for news.
It reads more like a Newsletter than a quick update on the developing tragic events.
I am still spending a lot of time on the phone trying to contact the families we know in Nepal. As electricity cuts prevents mobile phones from charging it makes it difficult and extremely frustrating however, l do manage to speak to most we know and love and get news of the others via their network.

I can confirm that those families and their children are safe, which is not always the case elsewhere where  many communities are completely wrecked.
The worst is in the countryside where houses were often old and weak.
Most have now gone... with a monsoon about to start... if the current situation was not bad enough already!

Our builder friend Ishwor's village in Sinduli district, now raised to the ground

The school we sponsor three hours away from Kathmandu has been hit but luckily only the old original farmhouse that had been converted into a primary school. The new classroom block we help build with an anti-seismic reinforced concrete structure has only suffered minor damage. Some internal partition walls are down but can easily be rebuilt. We are so fortunate that Saturday, the day of the first and most powerful earthquake, most students were away and the boarding children were playing outside.

Sports Day at Namo Buddha School on the new floor that you sponsored.

Most people in the Kathmandu valley, who work and live there, come from rural areas outside the valley. Many villages, as a result, are peopled mostly by women, children and the elderly.
They hear that most of their family homes have been raised to the ground.
The majority of these communities are very isolated at the best of times making it difficult for aid to reach them fast.

Samrat, Bharat and Sabita

Our glass-maker friend Bharat (some of you would have met him at the galleries) his wife and little boy  are safe amongst the mayhem in Kathmandu and so is our silversmith friend Krishna and many of "our group".

Most of their relatives in the villages made it, but not all.
At the moment, like millions of Nepalis, they camp outside with the bare minimum under plastic sharing with others the little they still have.

Bharat told me they had 96 tremors during the first 72 hours after the original devastating quake - and by tremors we do not mean little shakes like we get here. It has been raining heavily yesterday...

The moral so far is good for all these desperately positive people but it is not the case for most of their families and relatives in the country.

Bharat's village and neighbouring communities close to the epicentre have been completely destroyed. The same is for many of our other friends' relatives. Travel and communication are difficult.

Raju's home and village have completely gone with some loss of lives amongst distant relatives.

I just try to imagine how he feels so far away here with us in England... He is such a discreet and positive soul.

Although relief is coming, l know by experience that children are the ones who are suffering the most.

They are shocked and rely on adults for reassurance and for a "normal life" to come back and many are traumatised as they are too young to understand.

As the parents scramble in the rubble of their home salvaging what they can to eat and to erect a makeshift shelter before the monsoon hits them, children are "in the way".

The ideal would be, in the countryside in particular, to set up camps and make sure children are gathered and safe away from the parents so they can be distracted and have a semblance of normality whilst the parents rebuild.

A plastic or tin roof and some minders providing food for the community would do to start with, if the local school has already gone which in many cases it has.

For this they need funds and the practicality of getting such materials in remote areas is a huge undertaking.

Learning fast

Of course people will try to rebuild their homes as rapidly as they can.

I perfectly know that in Nepal, especially rural Nepal most do not have bank accounts or access to bank loans at the 'reasonable' rates of between12% and 16%. Many will have to rely on money lenders to provide quick cash at interest rates between 30% and 50%, sometimes higher.

For some of the weakest this will cost dearly and may rob them of the little security they have.
I have seen it happen too many times, bailing out some families with long term interest-free loans.

Although I am sure some of the financial aid coming in will be made to good use, corruption is not localised to some African countries. Nepal has its fair share of financial scandals operating with impunity.

It would be nice to know cash or vital materials are reaching those who need it most, but l really cannot see postmen delivering cash in envelopes in remote areas.

Like you, many of my friends and clients are asking how they can help.

"Long term" is important and cash without strings to buy building material will be needed of course to get the poorest in the communities back on their feet.

As most people have lost their homes, the problem is enormous.

Sponsoring a whole village and rebuilding its dwellings would be fabulous but let's keep it real....only if we win the lottery!

l feel that  planning to help build at least one solid (anti-seismic reinforced concrete pillar system) community centre / village hall type of building that would very likely be the most resistant and the safest place in the small community, could be a start. It would also be a good investment that would be run by the community elders, as they often do.

Another point that, in my experience, is important, is that this would also minimise jealousy between families as to who gets help and who does not, because, I am afraid, it is not if but when, the next earthquake will hit Nepal again.

Of course everybody wants a reinforced concrete home that is more likely to withstand chronic earthquakes in the region. Why not?

Often the reason that the young, especially men, go to cities or accept to work hard in Middle-Eastern countries in often terrible conditions is that they can buy and transport the expensive materials to build such structures in their villages for their families.

The few houses that are still standing, especially in remote areas, are mostly these.

Unfortunately this is not going to happen fast

 

Antima, Prakash's young widow with her children Rohan, Pooja and Aniket being registered at their new school

 

As you already know, I have, with the support of many of you, the long term responsibility for the education and health of 10 children from very under-privileged backgrounds.

Start of the new term in Adapur Public School

Believe me when l say that it is a very hard choice for me to make not to take on any more at present. I do not feel confident l would be able to guaranty long term stability and commitment with the moneys l can raise at the moment.

I have paid this year's fees for our 10 children during my last visit in February.

We have a budget for this and a small buffer that I must not touch, so we manage for this year.

My wishes right now is about making sure that some desperate people and communities we know get our financial help directly so that they do not fall into a more desperate situation as l mentioned earlier.

As most of you are aware, l am not a registered charity yet. I would not even know how to start and whether if would be a good idea without involving lots of people.

l do all my social work personally with the help of very few close friends in Nepal that l completely trust.

We sometimes get donations for specific projects or children and l follow the request as a matter of course, trust and duty.

If a donor asks for a particular aspect to be sponsored, so be it.

In a village where the whole mountain has no water at all but the land is cheap, people only grow one mean crop of maize straight after the monsoon season. You sponsored the cement and materials for Ishwor's father's 7000 litres rain water tank.
The family can now grow vegetables all year round

We encourage concerned people to made regular contributions even small, as it means we can better plan long term.

Lots of £5 or £10 every month soon mount up and for a "small but perfectly formed"  Alain Rouveure Nepal Fund, it does make an amazing difference.

Of course, as we have a disaster of such a huge magnitude in Nepal right now, any help of any form is a "God Sent" quite frankly.

l go to Nepal every four months, usually staying an average of over 4 months each year for my work with the galleries.

When I give help to our people in Nepal, it is never 100% that is given, but more like 150%.

There is no admin nor expenses.

I even pay for my stay and plane ticket myself as I have always done since 1979 and l put my a lot of my own money into the Nepal Fund.

In fact this is how I start any project.

I usually go and buy the necessary myself often at better rates than a Nepali ever would.

Is it my green eyes, the white hair or is it my accent?

Unlike in the West, grey or white hair is revered...so you wont see me use Grecian 2000 for some time as l get more mileage with my silver locks!

I have given up on my accent...I have got one?

All this to say that you can rest assured, should anything go wrong with the funds l distribute or that something had not been followed as we had planned, l would "break legs"... so to speak!

Dashain Festival at Patali, Kavre district

So far, for over thirty years, it has worked perfectly and we are doing good work at personal and individual level.

Although I have not entered details about the recent disaster yet, some of your friends can have a look at www.AlainRouveure.com  Nepal Relief Fund

Sanish and family. Now 16 years old, Sanish was the first child Alain sponsored to have a heart operation aged seven

Another question asked by those who know, " what has happened to "The Monkey House", the small property I have rebuilt in the old part of Kathmandu some years ago?
It has survived and none of my friends were in it at the time of the earthquake.

Should l be amazed?

As this property has always been destined to be left to share between six families close to me to do what they wish when l am gone, I now know I was right to listen.

I am not amazed, No, I am relieved instead that having followed the advice of the structural engineer who designed the reinforced concrete structure, he was absolutely right even when the end cost was more than five times that of a conventional mud and brick build...a small price to pay for the future generations who will stay in it knowing the best has been done for a long term legacy.

There are six rooms on top of each other with only one mine, as the others are made available for friends to come and stay as they wish.

"The Monkey House" is a home away from home and a place for all our friends and their children to come and meet up regularly. A "family home".

It looks like it could be full to the brim for some time once we know it is absolutely secure and safe to live in.

So, dear friends, here you have the latest news from Nepal.

I am grateful and humbled to have some support from clients and friends who feel the same as I do.

One of the ways to contribute is by cheque made payable to

ALAIN ROUVEURE RELIEF FUND
sent to
Alain Rouveure
Crossing Cottage
Todenham near Moreton in Marsh
GLOS GL56 9NU

or by bank transfer to

ALAIN ROUVEURE RELIEF FUND
LLOYDS TSB 30 95 75
Account 22238 668

IBAN GB43LOYD 3095 7522 238 668
BIC/SWIFT LOYDGB21385

Namaste

Our world is a small world and it feels smaller as we travel and meet others who, at first, often seem so different to us but deep down are the same.
Most of us would like to help those who are less fortunate than us achieve goals that, we in the West, take for granted.
I feel it is our duty to help each other, where-ever we find ourselves in the world, as we see others help us in our hours of need.

Thank you again for your support and your best wishes on behalf of our beautiful friends and their children in Nepal.

All the very best to you too,