Editor, The Times:
My name is Ian Eakins and I had the privilege to live in Nepal for 11 years from 1977-88 and I guided mountain and river trips there until 1993. It is a place that is close to my heart and I believe that everyone that goes to Nepal comes back with an appreciation of what a special place it is and how wonderful the people are.
Now Nepal needs our help. As you know, a large earthquake struck the country on April 25 at midday. The devastation has been extensive but the good news for Kathmandu is that because of its accessibility and the fact that it is the seat of the political power, the bulk of international aid will be concentrated there. The real need is in the middle hills and high mountain valleys.
The middle hills of Nepal are beautiful and are populated with extremely hard working people. It is not a wealthy place and life is tough. Villages near the epicenter had over 80 per cent of the homes destroyed and many people died.
One of my favourite places in Nepal was Langtang, a small mountain village at 11,300 ft. that was surrounded by magnificent peaks. I first went there in 1977 and I had such a great time that I returned many times over the years. I made good friends there and the people were kind, generous, and fun. Langtang was completely wiped off the face of the earth with a massive avalanche/landslide that came down from Langtang Lirung Mountain (23,000 ft) and totally buried Langtang and three other small villages in the area. The people, the houses, the fields, the school, the animals and everything else was buried under tons of ice, snow, mud and rock. There is nothing left.
These small villages will not make the news, they will not receive the aid. They are too remote and too insignificant for the powers that be in Kathmandu. These villages are not made up of well-connected people. They are made up of hard working, industrious and loyal tribal people.
I have done a lot of research on the best way to get food and supplies to the villagers. You can go with the big charities like the Red Cross, Save the Children or Oxfam, and all are good charities. There are three small charities however, that already have people on the ground that have lived, or are living, in Nepal whose main goal is getting aid into the more remote middle hills and mountain regions on the country.
1) We Help Nepal www.wehelpnepal.org is run by people I know well and they are distributing food, shelter, supplies and water purification equipment.
2) The Nepal Karma Fund www.gofundme.com/nepalkarmafund, was established by families from the Langtang Valley. All of the money will go to get Langtang back on its feet again. Their focus is to first look after the survivors, rebuild the homes in the villages that were not wiped out, and then get the trekking industry running again so there is work and income in the valley.
3) The Friends of Langtang – www.langtangvalleyhealth.org is an Australian-based organization. They had an excellent health clinic with two nurses and a small school up and running in Langtang Village. They have lost everything, including some of their staff, but they are not giving up and are going to rebuild.
Go to these sites and take a look. You will receive tax receipts from the big charities, you may not from these small grass roots ones. If we could all put $20 or more into one of these organizations and then pass this idea on to others – we may be able to make a difference for the people of the mountains in Nepal.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions about any of these organizations, please call me at 250-587-6444.
Ian Eakins, Tay Briggs and family
Wells Gray Adventures
Editor’s Note: Before and after photos of Langtang village can be seen at www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-27/nepal-earthquake-before-after-photos/6424570. Be warned – they are pretty grim.