If had been 10 days since the quake. And not a word from our men. Their village had no road access – but we new from aerial reconnaissance that their whole district was decimated.
Most of them had been working for us in Dhawa when if struck. All had to head directly home not knowing what they would find.
The phones were still down. So after 10 days picking up the pieces in Dhawa, we set off to find them. We filled a pickup with 80 tents, hundreds of sheets of tin, dozens of bankets and kip mats, and as many tools as we could carry. Hundreds of tools and fixings, from hammers to saws and spades, rope and wire – everything we could think of. We would have to walk it all in – as there’s no road.
It was well after dark when Giri and I finally got to the end of the navigable road. Leaving the pickup, driver and safe, we set off on foot into the night.
It felt so brilliant to finally arrive. The guys were so happy to see us, their faces lit up the moonlit night. We forgot that there were no houses any more, the roxy flowed and all told stories of what they found when they made it home. As Bhuddists, they lived for this moment. And in it, we laughed at the joy of all us all being together once again.
But nearly 2 weeks after the quake which changed the course of history here, not a single bit of aid had yet arrived here. Luckily we had brought the basics. And the next morning we sent two teachers on a survey to find out exactly what had happened, collecting data while we went to visit every one of the guys in their destroyed homes.
For Biri and Bodri we had to drop down the mountain, wade the white water river up to our waists, and climb an hour up a vertical mountain the other side! All 9 were similar to reach, but the smiles they met us with, would have made it worthwhile returning ten more times.
I don’t know how our guys manage to roll with the punches so amazingly, but to Purna, Kaka, Biri, Bodri, Mila, Gombir, Ram, RamB and Suman, none of whom will get this post, we want you to know how incredibly special you are. Here’s looking at all of you.