Of all natural calamities nothing is more harrowing and destructive than a major earthquake. Unlike an oncoming typhoon or cyclone where there is time to take preventative action, that luxury is not afforded to those about to be struck by an earthquake. The suddenness with which it strikes, the intensity and ferocity and the horrendous loss of life in a mere 30 - 90 seconds is probably the most frightening of all natural disasters. The more superficial the earthquake the greater the destruction. Add to that poorly constructed houses and you have a recipe for a major catastrophe. To go through the experience once is a lifetime but to go through it twice is an eternity. The population of Nepal have just experienced a second 7.3 major earthquake in less than three weeks after the major 7.8 event. Eight thousand dead thus far from the first event (it's probably substantially higher as many of the areas are virtually totally inaccessible), 17 000 injured, thousands homeless and millions living in fear with each oncoming after shock.
Gift of the Givers teams were there, once again witnessing the same destruction as India 2001, Iran 2003, Pakistan 2005, Haiti 2010 and now Nepal 2015. The fear, the anxiety, the uncertainty, the pain and the suffering are all too familiar for our teams. This time search and rescue was virtually impossible in inaccessible mountains - it was possible for our teams only in the city where buildings were marked by us, identifying where bodies lie. Medical support was the hallmark of our mission with our teams running seven theatres in five hospitals, operating on 102 patients many with severely complicated injuries, treating 700 patients for primary health care in various mountainous areas, and seeing to another 100 non theatre patients in hospitals. We did the best we could and brought hope to a battered nation but more was done.
Patients and their families were provided with food at hospitals, medical implants and disposables all paid for by us to ensure FREE treatment for victims. Food parcels were handed out to 825 families in several mountainous districts and the roll out of 4000 tents has commenced, again paid for by us. In the wake of this second large earthquake our greatest contribution as South Africans to the people in Nepal will be cash to purchase food, tents and medical supplies to ensure some kind of physical support for thousands who will be homeless through destroyed homes or through fear of aftershocks. With the monsoon rains already on the way this is the least we can do for the people of Nepal. Trauma counselling and housing reconstruction are future options. Contributions to Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, Account No. 052278611, Branch code 057525. Please fax or email deposit slip with full contact details for acknowledgement purposes. Details 0800786911.