On April 14th, I was part of the first of two groups who went with Gulf Photo Plus for a 5 day tour and came back to Dubai just five days before the quake hit. The second group, with people who I count as my friends, got caught up in the quake. All survived unharmed, thankfully but many other people have died, been injured and are homeless. What is so surreal to me is the fact that I had originally planned to be part of the second group but was able to get a place in the first group when one of the participants was not able to make it.
I am sure that many people stepped to help during and after the earthquake. I am sure that over time we will see countless stories of ordinary people carrying out extraordinary feats. I wanted to highlight a story close to my heart.
We had two guides, Guru and Thakur, on both trips. While they were extremely hospitable and took really good care of the first group on the ground, the way they took care of the second group during the earthquake really stands out. While many guides left to go back home, Guru and Thakur stayed with the second group and took care of them until each and everyone of them was able to board a plane out of Kathmandu. This, they did, despite knowing that their families were at risk. They are truly heros in my book.
We managed to get in touch with them a couple of days after the last participant made it home. They are back with their families. Thakur's entire village is demolished. No electricity, food or water. Guru's wife is expecting this week. The family is okay although his house has a lot of cracks in it.
Both are very concerned with the aftershocks and how they will rebuild their lives.
Many of us are trying to raise funds to help them rebuild their lives (their livelihood being dependent on the tourism industry) and we would be grateful to any one who would be willing to contribute to the fund raising efforts.
Given the conditions of the some of the bathrooms we visited, Thakur and Guru always made sure that the group had a ready supply of toilet paper and it became an inside joke that was shared by the whole tour group.
Do take the time to read a first hand account by two of the participants in the second group. Natalie Tonking - The earth crumbled and our legs, bones, everything felt like jelly - Khaleej Times http://bit.ly/1EnpFXi via @khaleejtimes, and Lisa Seymour, http://www.thenational.ae/uae/last-minute-change-of-plan-saves-uae-photographers-from-nepal-quake.
To help the guides, Lisa has set up a fund raising website at www.gofundme.com/bringbacknepal.
There has been "extensive and irreversible damage" at the world heritage site in the Kathmandu valley. Seven monument zones in the valley make up the world heritage site, namely, Buddhist stupas [monuments] at Swayambhunath and Boudhanath and Hindu temple complexes at Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan. The three urban zones at the site are the Durbar squares - meaning "noble courts" - in the settlements of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. These complexes have been described by UNESCO and many other witnesses as being "almost fully destroyed".
The images in my gallery are from all the UNESCO sites I visited along with the Nagorkot Hill Station. It is so unbelievable to me that of the many places I visited not five days prior, almost nothing remains. Unbelievable that some of the people whose pictures I made may not be in this world anymore.
Despite the prevalent poverty, the Nepalese people I met were very dignified, warm in their welcome and generous with their time and my heart goes out to them.
The people of Nepal require a lot of help to re-build their lives so please do consider donating whatever you can to help them in their time of need.
PRAY FOR NEPAL