This section is dedicated to our association LANGTANG DISASTER RELIEF FUND, created in 2015 to help the people of Langtang who were totally destroyed by an avalanche.
For legal and logistical reasons we have replaced the association in Spain by an NGO in Nepal called MENDO FAMILY FOUNDATION, but we want to record all the work done so far through the association.
Here is a summary of the projects and actions carried out during these years and some images of the tragedy… If you want to read more detail you can go directly to the Blog.
Hello, I´m Pasang Bhuti.
I was born in Langtang.
I am the oldest of 7 brothers and sisters and we all lived together in a small house made of wood and stones. It was a small village, no more than 400 inhabitants, but very beautiful. I was in a privileged area three days from Kathmandu, one day by bus and two more walking on beautiful trails up the river of the same name until you reach a valley surrounded by impressive mountains of more than 6000 meters. This area was the first area designated as a national park by Nepal in 1971. My family lives there for almost 200 years, when my grandparents crossed from Tibet fleeing the genocide and received the name of Tamang. My parents cultivated the land, and I had to take care of our animals along with my sister Dechen. We would get up very early to go and break the ice and have water to drink and cook with. My sister loved to drink milk directly from the yak’s teat, and more than once she took a kick.
Tourists in Langtang.
Langtang has always been a place of passage for many tourists in love with the mountain. Since I was a little girl I dealt with them a lot and they always treated me with affection and helped my family. At night we used to get into their sleeping bags as soon as they got up to pee. Now we have blankets, but back then we all slept on the floor covering ourselves with my father’s jacket and pretending not to be cold. We also used to put on their boots to play for a while. I always felt close to them.
This is how, when I was 8 years old, I met Thea and Peter, the German couple who would be my sponsor for the next 11 years, until I finished my higher education. Thanks to them I was not only able to study, but they also helped me when my father had to undergo emergency surgery. Thea was for me like a second mother who always helped me with my problems as I grew up.
As it happened with me, many children from the village were getting sponsors to study in Kathmandu and many tourists became a great help for the Tibetan families in Langtang. Strong ties were formed over many years.
It was also in Langtang that I met my husband. He stayed alone one day at my family’s homestay and we exchanged emails. A year later he returned and we got married in Nepal, and a year later, at the whim of the Spanish bureaucracy in the Delhi embassy, we had to get married again in Spain. We have been together in Spain for 3 years now and we visit Nepal whenever we can. Although we are very well, I always miss my family.
Every vacation the children return to the village to be with their parents which most do not see all year round. There they learn in their Buddhist traditions and remember the way they used to live, while helping their parents with the tourists and playing with their friends who many times they have not seen all year round either.
My whole life is related to my people. We all knew each other very well there because, as I said, it is very small, but very beautiful.
On April 25th everything changed. On this day my village was swept away by an avalanche of ice and rocks as big as a house, after an earthquake shook the whole of Nepal. The mountain broke and dropped all the snow accumulated during a winter that had been much harder than in recent years. A survivor explains how they left their homes when they felt the first big earthquake, and how before it stopped the huge wave that ended everything.
The day before there was Ghyawa in Langtang. It is a ritual party that we do on the 49th day after the death of a loved one, where many friends from other villages come and the lamas help their spirit to find its way and we say goodbye to it definitively. During the day we pray, at night we dance. The next day many stayed to help clean up the village. The children took advantage of their last days of vacation before having to leave for school. But that day Langtang Lirung (7246m) took more than 200 lives in Langtang alone, among local people and tourists.
The missing and the survivors
Among those people was my mother Tsering Mendo. I love you madly and I never thought that I would leave Nepal without your hugs… Although I know that you will always be with me, right now I feel lost and I feel that I have to do something to make you always proud of me.
The murderous avalanche almost took my father and little brother away too, but luckily, as they explained later, they were already on their way down so that Karpu could get to Kathmandu to start his classes. That saved them, but it didn’t spare them from spending 5 days running from one place to another, looking for safe shelter, helping the injured…, until they were rescued. They have seen things that no one should see, least of all a 10-year-old boy.
Both arrived on April 30th to Kathmandu, 6 days after the earthquake. Nima was flown in by helicopter from Kengin Gompa, and Karpu ran from Dunche to Trisuli for 7 hours and there took a bus to Kathmandu, where we were surprised to see them safe and sound for the first time! What a joy! And what sadness at the same time to hear from your father’s mouth in such a direct way that your mother has really died. We had hope that she was one of the survivors and had not been able to communicate yet… That night we all slept together in the improvised camp under plastic and bamboo, where they all sleep since the tremor, for fear that they will be caught again inside the houses.
Even today, 15 days later, Nepal is still moving and the tremors are still felt. The week after the tragedy, the wounded continued to arrive from the Langtang Valley to the hospitals where they were operated on for the brutal injuries and fractures that the rain of rocks had caused during their escape. Some in the face and head, others in the torso and ribs, many with broken legs that will leave them unable to walk in most cases. Many in a state of shock are still unable to talk about their experiences… Besides my mother, I have also lost my grandmother Sen Sangmo, my aunt Lakpa, and 19 other relatives…
Only 5 survivors under the rubble of Langtang All other survivors were not in the village at the time of the avalanche. Many were in the countryside, or in nearby villages, or in Kathmandu and so they have saved their lives. But everyone has lost someone. The village has disappeared and 50% of its inhabitants have disappeared with it.
Finally 148 Langtang natives have survived. The fewest are in the house of some relative who already lived in Kathmandu, but most are sheltered in the gardens of the Yelow Gumpa monastery in Suayhambunath, hosted by the Tibetan monks under a very large tent and in tents.
There they receive medical visits, food and water, but the cleaning conditions are poor and already there are patients and most of them have diarrhea. There is no hygiene or bathrooms where they can shower, only very few latrines for so many people… I don’t know how long they will be able to be accommodated there, and soon the rainy season will arrive. The Monsoon will multiply the possibilities of disease transmission and the situation becomes very difficult to live camped outdoors. Who knows how the situation will evolve, but we don’t think that the government of Nepal will help these people directly, but it would have already done so.
Back to Langtang
What we do know is that almost all the survivors want to return to Langtang. Many of them have never been down to the city before and don’t know or want to stay there, depending on the charity of the people. They want to go back to their village, rebuild their houses and go back to their country life with their vegetable gardens and their animals. And as soon as the tourists begin to return, who will surely come back, they will offer them the best as always and re-establish the bonds that have united them for so long. The hospitality of the Tibetan people is known to all those who have shared time with them.
They just need a push, a help to get through this difficult situation. They are people of character, fighters, who will get through anything, and if we can help we should not miss the opportunity to do so. Because many friends from all over the world write to me on Facebook and want to help us. People with whom I have maintained friendships since they were with us in Langtang, but also many who I have not met directly but feel so close by their words. For all this we have made this website. To remember those who are missing and to get help for those who are still struggling to survive. Thank you very much to all of you.
Article written on May 16, 2015 by Pasang Bhuti, for a section of the Langtang Disaster Relief Fund website.