Nepal Project Update will explain how much has been done and that more help is needed | VailDaily.com

Nepal Project Update will explain how much has been done and that more help is needed

If You Go ...

What: Nepal Project Update.

When: 6-9 p.m., Thursday, May 12.

Where: Eagle-Vail Pavilion, 538 Eagle Drive, Eagle-Vail.

Cost: Donations accepted.

More information: It’s a party and update on The Sherpa Foundation’s efforts to rebuild homes and lives devastated by last spring’s earthquakes. The Sherpa Foundation is a local nonprofit that puts money directly into Nepali villages devastated by the earthquakes. To donate and for more information, go to sherpafoundation.org.

Rebuilding earthquake-devastated Nepal is not complicated, it’s work. They’re not the same thing.

One year ago today, a major earthquake hit within minutes of each other, toppling buildings and killing thousands of people. Those quakes came just two weeks after a massive tremor shook the Mount Everest region, burying Base Camp and villages in snow, ice, rubble and death.

“It wasn’t just Kathmandu and Base Camp. That May 12 devastated everything else, much of the rest of the country,” said Pemba Sherpa, founder of The Sherpa Foundation.

The second quakes were so big they shook New Delhi, India, more than 600 miles away.

Capturing the moments

Local filmmakers Tyler Wells and Derek George, with Alpenglo Media, accompanied Pemba and The Sherpa Foundation crew to Pemba’s home village, Cheplung Village, Nepal, where they helped repair and rebuild more than 100 homes.

Their documentary captures devastation, death and the rebirth that followed.

It premieres tonight at the Nepal Project Update, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion.

Wells and George were often up before the sun, filming early-morning sunrise and alpenglow.

The cold, hard light of day revealed how little these people have and how brutally hard life can be, even when it’s not being shaken apart by murderous earthquakes. But most of all, it shows how grateful they are when someone reaches out to give them a hand.

“The struggle for their everyday life is incredible. Then to compound it you’d see buildings crumbled. It’s so much harsher than anything we’re used to,” Wells said.

Tourism matters, and most trekkers stay on the main trails. Those were the first houses repaired, Wells said.

“I hear people say, ‘I was just there and it looked great!’” Wells said.

What they don’t see are houses on the side trails that are still wrecked.

“There are still so many homes off the beaten that people don’t see,” Langendorfer said.

The Sherpa Foundation raised more than $100,000, and every cent went to Nepali families and their rebuilding efforts. No one gets paid one thin dime for this.

“Everything The Sherpa Foundation raised went directly into the hands of the people. That makes such a huge difference,” said Barrett Langendorfer, who was with The Sherpa Foundation in Nepal last November.

It’s effective because The Sherpa Foundation and other groups avoided governments — theirs and ours — like the plagues they are.

Backbreaking work

There are no trucks to haul building materials because there are no roads in that part of Nepal. People carry everything on their backs.

The flights go into remote regions filled with building materials and haul passengers out. If the tourists don’t fly, neither do materials.

One day there was one flight out of Cheplung Village, theirs, Wells said. They were happy to wait on the tarmac for the materials to be unloaded before they could get aboard to fly from Cheplung Village to Kathmandu.

Every piece of construction material has to be flown in and then carried for miles on people’s backs.

A human can carry a small refrigerator, or five to six sheets of plywood, or metal roofing material, or concrete, or rebar.

Everything is done by hand. There are no excavators or backhoes. They smash rocks to make concrete. Cinder blocks are made by pouring material into a mold.

“That’s every day for them. That’s what they expect,” Wells said.

The people of Nepal did not expect two major earthquakes within minutes of each other, followed by thousands of aftershocks all summer. But they do now.

They put solar cells on some of the homes. For many, it was the first time they’ve had electricity or lights in their homes.

Help still needed

They spent months trying to rebuild emotionally as they tried to rebuild their homes.

Rebuilding efforts are hampered by a blockade by India’s government, which doesn’t like some of the provisions in Nepal’s new constitution.

“No matter what happens between the governments, it’s the poor who suffer,” Pemba said.

“They still need a lot of help,” Wells said. “Hopefully, we get to do more for these people.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.




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