Nepal Update - A Year After

posted 25.04.2016

It has been a year since the two powerful earthquakes of 7.8 and 7.4 hit Nepal on 25 April and 12 May 2015. The earthquakes took 9,000 lives, destroyed more than 540,000 homes and buildings, 5,000 schools and more than 8,000,000 people became displaced. Most of these are living in Nepal’s remote mountain ranges.

Since the disaster, our mission partners (both local and overseas), sister Dioceses, Diocesan parishes and various individuals have given sacrificially to meet the needs of the Nepalese. To these I extend my personal and heartfelt thanks. I thank also the many individuals who gave sacrificially of their time, some at very short notice, to be deployed in Nepal to help with the distribution of aid and with medical relief work. Since the quake, the Diocese of Singapore has dispatched eight relief teams to distribute basic supplies to more than 5,000 households, as well as ten medical teams to various locations, most of them villages in the mountainous regions that received the least amount of aid and assistance.

It was a privilege for those of us involved in the relief work in Nepal to extend God’s love during this difficult time. What is even more heartening is to see the effects of God’s love in the lives of Nepalese converts. Some of these new believers shared with me how they came to faith after experiencing the genuine love of God through the Christian community. We rejoice and praise the Lord for these souls, and the amazing growth of the Anglican Church in Nepal.

While the growth of the Church has ben amazing, I wish I could say the same about the rebuilding of homes and lives of the Nepalese. So little has been done to rebuild the country after the quake, and to help its people recover from the disaster and move on with life. Most of the villagers living in the mountain ranges are still living in makeshift shelters; their children are still traveling long hours to other villages to attend classes in makeshift buildings; health post that were destroyed have yet to be replaced; and whole communities are showing signs of distress from the lack of resources and help. The six-month blockade at the Nepal-India border continues to cast a dark shadow over the people. Prices of rice, sugar, salt and gas make these basic supplies unaffordable to most people. The costs of building materials have surged because of the limited supply from India. Couple this with high transportation and material costs, and hope dwindles that homes, schools and health-care facilities can be completed anytime soon.

I spoke to many local Nepalese during my recent trip in March 2016. They all expressed one common desire: to have a roof over their heads before the monsoon (June to Sep), and walls to keep them sheltered from the cold Himalayan winter (late Nov to Feb). Sadly, the slow progress by the authorities and the current economical and political situation spell the need to brave further harsh seasons in rough-hewn shelters.

The Deanery of Nepal has begun the rebuilding of church structures that were destroyed by the quakes. God willing and with the support of local engineers, we hope to get roofs and infrastructures up before the arrival of this year’s monsoon rains. The buildings will serve as community halls for the villages, so that the needy can seek temporary refuge and shelter from Nepal’s harsh monsoon and winter seasons.

As we mark the first anniversary of Nepal’s devastating disaster, I humbly ask for your prayers as we remember the 76 Anglicans, including Pastor Laxman, who were taken home to be with our Lord, and to constantly pray for the Nepalese people, and our rebuilding project as this is a mammoth task. So much needs to be done within such a short period of time, across a vast area with difficult terrain, while facing so many constraints. In the midst of these, we trust that the Lord will enable our team to faithfully complete its task to rebuild all the churches. May the Gospel of peace be felt by all in the process.

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” (Psalm 89:1-2)

Revd Lewis Lew
Dean of Nepal
25 April 2016