Doctor heeds call to Nepal
A LOCAL doctor has just returned after spending four months in Nepal helping with the earthquake recovery effort.
Dr Calida Neal, as a member of local charity Children's Welfare Organisation of Nepal, helped meet the immediate need for food and shelter after the quake.
Having quickly raised funds via a crowd-funding page, Dr Neal was quickly on her way to Kathmandu.
"I had no real idea at that stage what I would be walking into," she said.
"I had never experienced a disaster zone before and I don't mind admitting that I was terrified."
Luckily 72 hours after the quake Nepal's only international airport was open and semi-functional.
After an uneasy night staying with friends in Kathmandu, Dr Neal headed to CWON's base, in the town of Sauraha in the southern Chitwan of the country.
"Our team in Chitwan already had relief programs underway in the hills that had been affected, which I joined immediately," she said.
"It was a difficult process for CWON and the local team to decide where our efforts would be best applied."
A village in the Gorkha region was selected. Reliable information had been gathered that a village called Alu Pokari had received no help and was being neglected by the army and other relief organisations.
A truck was arranged and loaded with rice, lentils, tarpaulins, blankets and other essentials and set off.
"When the team arrived in Alu Pokari four days after the earthquake the locals were overjoyed," Dr Neal said.
"Many of the villagers had not eaten a proper meal in days as their food supplies were buried under rubble," she said.
For Dr Neal and the team, the knowledge that the people of the village would be resting with full stomachs and under shelter was a great feeling and made the hard work and sleepless nights worthwhile.
Four months on from the disaster, the immediate need for food and shelter has passed but Dr Neal said the people of Nepal were still in a precarious position.
An unusual monsoon season and a sharp decline in tourism has caused people to slide even further into poverty.