The Royal Gurkha Rifles have helped ShelterBox to distribute shelter kits to families in extremely isolated mountain communities in Nepal.
The Gurkhas are a unique unit in the British Army with a reputation of being amongst the finest soldiers in the world. All Gurkha soldiers are recruited in Nepal, but officers are recruited from across the UK and Commonwealth.
One of our ShelterBox response teams first met the 13-man advance party from the Royal Gurkha Rifles Light Role Battalion in the township of Chautara, which is being used as an aid hub for deliveries to hard-to-reach communities.
The Gurkhas, who are incredibly experienced in working in this inhospitable terrain, offered their help to get ShelterBox aid to some of the most isolated communities in the mountainous landscape of Nepal.
ShelterBox response team member Becky Maynard said: ‘Our plan was to focus on areas that were inaccessible by vehicles, even 4 wheel drives, by creating a forward logistics hub and then visiting communities by foot.
‘In the first phase two separate recce teams visited different areas to assess the need for emergency shelter, and the potential for storage of aid, safe accommodation and a safe central distribution point in a forward hub.’
After reviewing four different sites with the support of the Nepalese Army, they decided to use a school in Taatiguan in the hard-hit area of Phatsila, as a base for aid delivery and community support.
This proved very challenging, as the second major earthquake delayed the arrival of lots of aid by 24 hours, while aid had to be transferred into smaller vehicles to make the difficult journey to Taatiguan. It took five separate journeys, which each truck being hand-loaded by the Gurkhas, ShelterBox and the Nepalese Army.
In total, shelter kits were provided to 670 families in the area of Phataksila, giving them the tools to clear rubble, to create dry shelters or to waterproof what remained of any buildings.
Fellow response team member Sallie Buck said: ‘It was a hugely challenging exercise to reach these remote communities, but by working in partnership with the Gurkhas and the Nepalese Army we overcame the numerous obstacles put in our way.’
‘The team of Gurkhas, some of whose own families had been badly affected by the disaster, were some of the warmest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of working with. Their generosity of spirit really shone through as they supported these devastated communities alongside us.’