South African group helps Nepal relief efforts

5 May 2015

The Gift of the Givers has carried out about 68 lifesaving operations in Nepal, where the South African relief organisation is helping aid efforts following the massive earthquake in the Himalayan country on 25 April.

The organisation’s first team, comprising 43 members for search and rescue and a small medical component, arrived in Kathmandu, the capital, on 29 April. The second team of 37 arrived on 1 May with a contingent of 33 trauma specialists. According to Gift of the Givers, the medical team, like the search and rescue team, was warmly welcomed and given total co-operation by Nepalese authorities.

The teams are running seven theatres in five hospitals carrying out major surgical procedures, according to the non-profit organisation, while the rescue team searches through the city and deep into the rural areas marking out buildings where victims are buried.

“A primary health care team is touring several mountainous areas, carrying out house visits and doing outreach programmes for certain hospitals. Patients and their families coming from distant rural areas to the city hospital for medical care are hungry,” the organisation said.

Gift of the Givers is also providing two meals a day for the patients and their families. This is in addition to food parcels that have been packed for distribution to those in distant areas. To help with shelter, tent material for 4 000 families was also bought from India.

On 25 April, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal, killing thousands. In the latest reports, on 4 May, Nepal’s government said the death toll had risen to 7 365 after 100 people, including several foreigners, were found dead from an avalanche near a popular trekking route. Another 14 000 people were injured across the country.

The bodies were recovered in Langtang village about 60 kilometres north of the capital. Officials say the village, which is popular with Western trekkers, was wiped out.

Access to food and water is limited and some 3.5 million people are in need of food assistance. An estimated 8 million people across the country’s western and central regions are affected by the disaster, including its largest cities, Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Gift of the Givers said its teams had been extremely busy in Kathmandu. “Search teams went throughout the city and deep into the rural areas marking out buildings where victims lay buried. The stench of death is starting to become more prominent as the clock ticks away,” it reported on its website.

Monsoon rains were five weeks away and “desperation increases as the days pass on”, it said.

SAinfo reporter