A Morpeth doctor who spent time in Nepal recently has spoken of seeing first-hand the devastation caused by two earthquakes.
Mike Lavender, who lived and worked in the Asian country for 10 years over two different time periods, arranged to go out there following the 7.8-magnitude quake that happened on April 25.
More than 8,000 people are believed to have died in dozens of villages, towns and cities, including the capital city Kathmandu.
He arrived on May 6 and after spending a couple of days in Kathmandu, he went to the Khokana area on the outskirts of the city to work with one of the recovery teams.
Dr Lavender and a couple of other volunteer doctors from Pakistan got together medical supplies and equipment to help people in rural areas as part of ChildReach Nepal’s response.
And their efforts became even more important when a second earthquake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, hit Nepal on May 12. Hundreds of people were killed and injured.
The group was one of the first medical teams to reach the Sindhupalchok district, which was also badly damaged in the first quake.
Dr Lavender said: “We treated 50 to 60 people a day with injuries such as cuts and bruises and a significant number of people had chest infections and dysentery as a result of living outside and having the water supply cut-off following the first earthquake.
“Those with the most serious injuries were taken by helicopter to hospitals.
“Along with other volunteers from ChildReach Nepal, we provided people with water purification tables and jerry cans to transport the clean water. Many buildings in the district were completely destroyed and it’s a tragic situation for a country that has had many problems over the years. It was harder for aid teams to reach the rural areas, but the number of teams continued to grow during our time in Sindhupalchok.
“The international response has been excellent and as Nepal has been a big friend to Great Britain, I’m delighted that so many people are not only donating money, but running events and activities to raise funds for the recovery effort.”
During his time in Khokana, he visited people in a leprosy rehabilitation area that he treated when he worked in Nepal.
Of his first week in Nepal, Dr Lavender said: “When I arrived in Kathmandu, it didn’t look too bad because the main roads were still functioning and some buildings were still in tact.
“However, when you got into the back streets, you could see how extensive the damage was in the city and in the rural areas, there were hardly any buildings left standing.
“In both Kathmandu and Khokana, hundreds of people were sleeping in tarpaulin tents. There were tremors every day and people were too anxious to go back to their homes.” Looking ahead, he added: “The people of Nepal are very tough and resilient and, with support from their government, they will recover and rebuild their homes. However, it will take a long time. The main focus for ChildReach Nepal in the months ahead will be to provide safe places for children to go to resume their education because they were particularly terrified by what happened.
“This will also help their parents because they have a lot of work to do to get their lives back to some kind of normality.”
Dr Lavender, who returned home 10 days ago, said he will be helping to raise awareness and funds for the relief effort in Nepal and he ‘almost certainly’ will be going back to the country within the next 12 months.
For more information about ChildReach Nepal, visit www.childreachnp.org