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Nepal Earthquake | We’re With You, Pokhari

Pokhari girl drinks safe water | Nepal Earthquake

Over the weekend, our team in Nepal diligently worked to bring the people of Pokhari safe water after the devastating earthquake on April 25th. Photographer Bobby Neptune documents the difficult journey to see safe water flowing.

For hours, our truck undulated back and forth over the rough roads. There is a point where the bones in your body begin to creak and moan from the pain of the endless hiccupping from one pothole to the next. We were on our way to Pokhari, a small village south of Gorkha town in east central Nepal.

Pokhari was hit hard by the first earthquake two weeks ago. From all the reports, there was nearly nothing left of it. A few days prior, Tim Darms had done an assessment in the village and come to find out that after the quake, the freshwater spring in their village had stopped flowing and now they were walking long distances for water. Those that didn’t walk the distance for water collected water from what was left of the spring: a muddy puddle. A medical team reported cases of bloody diarrhea in the children, and all evidence pointed to the water source. Pokhari needed water. They needed help.

Pokhari village destruction | Nepal Earthquake

This installation was several days in the making and we had spent the last week moving pieces around the chessboard to be able to accomplish this. It was going to take over a kilometer of piping to move water form a nearby source to the center of the destroyed village. To say Pokhari is remote would be an understatement. It is located about 2000 feet on top of a ridge, deep inside a valley, several hours outside of Kathmandu. To move the heavy piping and machinery, we had a helicopter lift scheduled the following morning from the valley floor to a loading zone on one of the terraces high on the ridge.

Pipe ready for Pokhari village | Nepal Earthquake

Water treatment equipment | Nepal Earthquake

The plan was for the team to hike up very early in the morning, mark out a loading zone for the chopper and then wait for the lift to happen around mid-morning. Everything had to go perfectly.

As we rolled up on our campsite at the base of the trailhead, there was anticipation in the best of forms. A nervousness surrounded our camp as we all continued to dream and scheme about the installation slated for tomorrow. There were a lot of moving pieces. The final preparations were set, tents pitched, and a few hours of sleep were in order.

When a helicopter touches down, it doesn’t do so politely. Its rotor blast kicks up a dust storm big enough to temporarily blind the ground crew, which in this case was Seth, Craig and myself. The rest of the team had begun hiking early and had already reached the loading zone on the top of the ridge in Pokhari. It was now up to the three of us, plus a few other friends made the day prior to load the piping and chlorinator elements into the chopper at the valley floor.

Loading chopper | Nepal Earthquake

Craig loads helicoptor | Nepal Earthquake

We loaded the piping in the backseat, and the other elements into the cargo holds. I jumped in the front seat to join the team up top. It took two runs of the chopper from the valley floor to the top loading zone to get all the piping, but we got it there. As we were flying through the valley and up to the loading zone, I could just barely see the Himalayas in the background. Their snow-covered peaks were parading in stillness just past green hills in the foreground. It was just a very gentle reminder of the beauty and majesty that exist here in Nepal. In the midst of the chaos and the destruction, it seems that the Lord always sends these calming reminders that He is with us and that He is upstairs cheering us on.

Gurkha District Mountains | Nepal Earthquake

Pokhari village | Nepal Earthquake

As the chopper took off and the humming pitch cleared the valley, we all began gathering the load and moving it into place. From there, we nearly immediately went to work. Pitching tents. Making camp. Coordinating with the community. Mapping out the source. Finding the bladder installation location. It was clockwork and we were the timekeepers. Tim led the team like a champ, moving each of us, including myself to accomplish different jobs from laying the piping to creating a catchment tank for the clear spring up top. Tosa went to work on the chlorinator, the bladder tank and the tap stands, while we were moving 1km of piping into place.

Tim Darms applies plumbing tape while installing a top tank for the system | Nepal Earthquake

Tosa installs a chlorinator | Nepal Earthquake

Tim carries Parker hose | Nepal Earthquake

Tosa adjusts bladder tank fittings | Nepal Earthquake

I’ve worked in the developing world for nearly a decade now and have visited many communities in different cultures around the world and there was something very unique about this community. The way they were fully involved, every one of them, from the youngest to the oldest. If they weren’t lifting, they were digging. If they weren’t digging, they were finding tools we didn’t have and needed. It was quite special to see how involved they were in the entire process.

By the end of the first day, we had water flowing from the spring through the chlorinator and into the bladder. It was an unbelievable accomplishment given the circumstances of the day, but we had succeeded.

Chlorinator set up | Nepal Earthquake

Pokhari boy drinks safe water | Nepal Earthquake

Pokhari boy gets soaked in water | Nepal Earthquake

Pokhari residents get safe water | Nepal Earthquake

It was dark and so we all retreated to our campsite that we had made on the loading zone where the chopper had just 7 hours prior dropped off our kit. We built a little campfire and all sat around it and told stories from the day. There were several of us, a varying international contingent with 5 continents represented sitting around that campfire. The stars came out in full force and one by one we each retreated to our tents as the fire dwindled.

Campsite in Pokhari | Nepal Earthquake

The next morning, we awoke to find that the community had done extra work through the night. They had run extra piping from the school to another tap stand in the village about 300 meters away. There wasn’t much work left to do, just putting the finishing touches on the system and doing a bit of training. The community was ecstatic. There were smiles and laughter overshadowing the sadness.

Pokhari woman and her son | Nepal Earthquake

Pokhari women and kids | Nepal Earthquake

There was no official opening of the system. There wasn’t really time, but there was a quick ceremony where the community gave us all flowers and gifts they had made. It was officially operating and functioning and there was water in the community that less that 24 hours ago had not had it.

Tosa receives Pokhari necklace | Nepal Earthquake

Tim receives gift from Pokhari woman | Nepal Earthquake

Receiving flower necklaces | Nepal Earthquake

Water Missions team with Pokhari community | Nepal Earthquake

We packed up camp and started the long hike down the mountain. The hike was the equivalent of 3000 feet of stairs. We were moving at a fairly quick pace as we were sort of racing against the clock to get back before dark. We still had a 3-4hr drive ahead of us before we could reach any kind of civilization. A few minutes into our hike, it was clear that Tosa started to struggle. Without hesitation, Tim stopped and walked right next to Tosa. He carried out the entire rest of the hike at Tosa’s pace. It was at that moment that I truly understood what was happening. When you’re struggling, you just want somebody to be there for you. You just want somebody to say: “Hey man, I’m with you.” What Tim did for Tosa is exactly what we had just done for Pokhari. In the middle of their struggle, we came alongside, put our hand in their hand, our arm on their shoulder and said: “We are with you guys. We are here for you.” I think by doing that, we were able to inject hope into our friends in Pokhari the same way Jesus injects hope into our lives. He is the Great Provider, the One Who Is Always There. He is always walking next to us saying, “I’m with you.”

Bobby Neptune and children of Pokhari | Nepal Earthquake

Bobby Neptune (above) is a humanitarian photographer and storyteller currently on assignment in Nepal with Water Missions.

25 Responses.
  1. Linda Reeb May 20, 2015
    Linda Reeb May 20, 2015

    These pictures made me cry – what a wonderful story all round! Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
  2. Kathi McDermott May 21, 2015
    Kathi McDermott May 21, 2015

    Made me cry too. Thank you for what you are doing. I was in Nepal just 4 weeks before the earthquake very close to that town. So devastating. It is heartwarming that you are able to help these wonderful people.

    Reply
  3. Analisa May 21, 2015
    Analisa May 21, 2015

    So beautiful! Thank you Water Missions!

    Reply
  4. Jame Cuppy May 21, 2015
    Jame Cuppy May 21, 2015

    Great Work Guys You do wonderful work

    Reply
  5. susan kay May 21, 2015
    susan kay May 21, 2015

    A wonderful story,well told and well documented in photos. It made me very happy to have donated to Water Missions and so proud of the organization!
    Keep up the wonderful work, I will pass on the story to others..

    Reply
  6. Barbara Weibel May 21, 2015
    Barbara Weibel May 21, 2015

    May I suggest that you add a social media sharing plugin to your blog so that readers can easily tweet, share on G+ and Facebook, etc.

    Reply
  7. Michelle Sink May 21, 2015
    Michelle Sink May 21, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this story and the pictures. Amazing to see what the team has done already in such a short time. Looking forward to more updates!

    Reply
  8. Eddie Taylor May 21, 2015
    Eddie Taylor May 21, 2015

    Very touching. May God keep them safe and bless them. great job WMI!

    Reply
  9. Bill skilton May 21, 2015
    Bill skilton May 21, 2015

    Thanks for sharing that amazing journey….they were blessed and I was blessed in seeing another example of your
    Incredible ministry….to say I was choked up and tearing is an understatement…
    Prayers of thanksgiving….
    Abrazos in Christ
    +Bill

    Reply
  10. Aayush May 21, 2015
    Aayush May 21, 2015

    Can i buy those chloinators in Nepal locally? we can get more and install where its needed too!

    Reply
    • Tara Jones May 22, 2015
      Tara Jones May 22, 2015

      Hi Aayush, please email Jay Cook, our director of outside sales, at jcook@watermissions.org and he should be able to provide you with more information about purchasing chlorinators from our team. Thanks!

      Reply
  11. Bill Twyman May 21, 2015
    Bill Twyman May 21, 2015

    Thanks for sharing the story. What a great organization and group of caring people. God bless.

    Reply
  12. Ben Wierwill May 21, 2015
    Ben Wierwill May 21, 2015

    Keep up the good work!

    Praise The Lord Jesus Christ.

    Reply
  13. Alberta & Bill Messer May 21, 2015
    Alberta & Bill Messer May 21, 2015

    Water Missions International’s team continues to reach out to those people in such water crises. The team’s Incredible journey helping these wonderful people was documented so well. The photos taken told the stories in their eyes & smiles. Thank you all for great work and missions. Blessings.

    Reply
  14. Jane and Toby Horn May 21, 2015
    Jane and Toby Horn May 21, 2015

    What a great humanitarian gift you provided. We are so happy to be a very tiny part.

    Reply
  15. Jim Fralix Jr May 22, 2015
    Jim Fralix Jr May 22, 2015

    I was captured by the dedication, perseverance and effectiveness of WMI and all
    participants, in and around NEPAL .WMI is truly exceptional; when they sense disaster anywhere in the world that creates the need for water, they will be on-site pronto!! Amazing. Thank you, WMI. JIM FRALIX JR

    Reply
  16. Michael Bazira May 22, 2015
    Michael Bazira May 22, 2015

    Thank you guys. That is a great accomplishment and motivating. God bless Pokhari community.

    Reply
  17. Lynne Dillehay May 22, 2015
    Lynne Dillehay May 22, 2015

    For Pokhari to have good, clean water after such devastation is awesome. God does indeed bless those doing his work. The pictures tell a wonderful story as well! You are all in my prayers!

    We here at Charleston Water are proud supporters of Water Missions International, so thankful that we can see your work in action!

    Reply
  18. Mae Dean Northam May 22, 2015
    Mae Dean Northam May 22, 2015

    So proud of WMI and our guys on the ground! Prayers for their continuing success and safety.

    Reply
  19. Chris Crosby May 22, 2015
    Chris Crosby May 22, 2015

    What a beautiful view of God’s hand in action. Love God, Love our neighbor. Love God by serving and witnessing to our neighbor. Truly beautiful.

    Reply
  20. Jane Talbot May 22, 2015
    Jane Talbot May 22, 2015

    Thank you for this up close and personal report. Here, at the Educators Think Tank, were are forwarding this on to the teachers in our Lessons in a Bucket (www.lessonsinabucket.org) cluster. We hope they will share the photos and the story with their students who are learning about the world water crisis.
    Well done Water Missions!

    Reply
  21. Sharon Goodson May 23, 2015
    Sharon Goodson May 23, 2015

    What an amazing testimony of God’s provision and his children working together in love for a common goal. That was so encouraging how the villagers help every step of the way and then to lay the pipe during the night unexpectedly.

    Reply
  22. JohnMichael May 25, 2015
    JohnMichael May 25, 2015

    God be with you NEPAL

    Reply
  23. Susan Audo May 25, 2015
    Susan Audo May 25, 2015

    Very poignant. Thank You for saving lives!! Blessings

    Reply
  24. Susan Audo May 25, 2015
    Susan Audo May 25, 2015

    Very Poignant. Thanks for saving Lives! Blessings

    Reply
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