On December 14, 2015, Julie Bell, an MCC writer, and freelance photographer Matthew Sawatzky, had the privilege of attending a relief supplies distribution in Nepal. This is what they saw:
BHASBHASE, Nepal – The goal today is to provide 24 households with materials that will help them endure several months of winter. These families are living in temporary shelters made of tarps, sheet metal and salvaged materials because the April 25 earthquake destroyed or badly damaged their homes.
By about 10 a.m. on distribution day we are standing beside a house that a community member has agreed to let us use as a gathering place. We are surrounded by boxes, bags and large bundles wrapped in plastic. They are filled with blankets, mattresses and winter jackets purchased from Nepali suppliers. MCC’s partner in Dhading District of Nepal, Sansthagat Bikas Sanjal (Sanjal), is overseeing the distribution to the village of Bhasbhase.
People from two ethnic groups are gathering to receive supplies. They were chosen because they are particularly vulnerable in the aftermath of the earthquake.
The Tamang people are among the poorest ethnic groups in Nepal and suffer from severe food shortages. About 70 percent of Tamang infants and children under two suffer from malnutrition.
The Chepang people also are amongst the poorest ethnic groups in Nepal. Formerly nomadic hunters and gatherers, many in the Dhading District work in stone quarries, but available work has declined recently because of a fuel shortage in Nepal.
Using a list of selected families, members of a local organization and volunteers call out the names. Families come forward to pick up their supplies.
By about 11 a.m. most families have picked up their supplies and are packing up to return home.
Then the homeward trek begins, as people carry their supplies up into the hills.
As noon arrives, many people are back at their temporary shelters and making use of their new winter supplies.
Since mid-December, MCC and our partners have provided about 1,280 households with winter materials at distributions in the districts of Dhading, Lalitpur and Okhaldhunga.
In all of the distributions, vulnerable people and households are given priority.
In some areas, priority was given to female headed households, elderly people with no other family support, or households with disabled, injured or deceased family members. In other areas, people with homes that were completely destroyed or had lost their source of livelihood received winter supplies.
After disasters, MCC is known for working with local partners to meet urgent needs quickly and for supporting long-term rebuilding months or even years after a disaster. Please donate to our relief work around the world.