Filipinos help Nepalese in time of need
KATHMANDU, Nepal – A team of Filipino disaster response experts is helping the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Nepal get access to much needed medical supplies and food.
The 5-man team is led by Art Valdez – former team leader of the Philippine Mount Everest Expedition, together with Dr Ted Esguerra – head of the Energy Development Corporation’s Emergency and Disaster Response Unit (EDC-EDRU), Fred Jamili, Justin Karlo Aliganga, and Chris De Villes. Jamili and Aliganga are also part of EDC-EDRU while De Villes is a Singapore-based Filipino Volunteer. The team’s mission is to conduct loss and damage assessment, provide medical assistance, trauma management, water filitration, and food distribution in the Solukhumbu Region.
Though a small team, the contingent from the Philippines quickly established contacts here to help them mobilize faster. Assistance has been provided by the Philippine Embassy in India, the Consul for the Philippines in Nepal, the Filipino community in Nepal headed by Dr Anil and Dr Sharon Shakya. They also linked up with other Filipino humanitarians like Danny Rayos del Sol of French NGO Secours Populaire Francais. The team is assisted by guide Lakpa Geljen Sherpa and interpreter Mingma Sherpa. Another team of Filipinos from the Metro Manila Development Authority have also been deployed to help quake survivors.
Initially, the goal was to reach the Solukhumbu area due to the ties between Filipinos and the Sherpas that were cemented when the First Philippine Mt Everest Expedition Team summited Mt. Everest on two occassions (2006 and 2007) with the help of Lakpa. But, after a discussion with the International Disaster Response Network (IDRN) and the Honorary Consul Suraj Vaidya, the team was deployed to the outskirts of Melamchi and to the Langtang Reservation Area to assess the needs of the people there and provide aid. The village of Langtang, a popular hiking trail and tourist spot, was wiped out by a massive avalanche and landslide, which killed more than 50 people.
“This response that the Philippines has rendered is our way of thanking the world when they came down to us after the onslaught of Yolanda. Now, this mission we have here in Nepal other than the Mt. Everest feat we had, is our expression of gratitude that even if we have lots of problems, we still could provide the utmost help to humanity,” said Esguerra.
The team is fully equipped and self sufficient, in no small part due to the support of various donors and partners. They are carrying advanced life support kits from Project Michelangelo; communication gear from the Emergency Response Integration Center (ERIC Philippines); a solar-powered water filtration kit which can provide 2 gallons of water within a minute donated by the Pureforce Rescue Corp – Philippines; medical supplies from Y’s Men and RAHA Rescue Philippines; solar lighting systems from the Stiftung Solarenergie; and, a water straw from Mannasoft.
This response will also be made as an avenue to collect details of local accounts as to what happened and how they reacted, and take photos of the devastation which could later be used for preparing the Philippines for such an event. The Philippines, as we all know, is bound to endure an earthquake of the same magnitude. Nepal experienced an earth shattering jolt for 54 long seconds.
In 2004, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, studied the potential impact of a massive earthquake on Metro Manila. If a 7.2 magnitude quake strikes in the country’s capital, casualties would mount to 35,000 and there would be 500 simultaneous fires. An estimated 40% of most buildings would sustain heavy damage. Similar events have happened in Chile, New Zealand, L’Aquila in Italy, and Haiti.
Nearly two weeks after the April 25 earthquake, rescue efforts have shifted to retrieval of dead bodies. A semblance of life is slowly returning to the country. But some remote communities remain out of reach for many rescue teams. The bigger challenge to rebuild Nepal lies ahead. – Rappler.com