Though Nepal is half a world away, there are plenty of local residents who have connections to the country and the tragic situation that has resulted from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake on Saturday.
The quake has damaged much of Nepal’s infrastructure, which has made it difficult to communicate inside the country.
The earthquake, with the epicentre outside the national capital of Kathmandu, is the worst to hit the country in more than 80 years and has claimed the lives of more than 4,000, with the death toll continually climbing as of Monday.
As it stands at press time on Monday afternoon, there are six confirmed Cranbrook/Kimberley area residents in the country.
•Alex and Tricia McLeod were trekking through the Nepal on their way to Mount Everest Base Camp. They were in a building that collapsed when the earthquake struck, but are safe in Lukla as of Monday via updates to family members and friends in Cranbrook.
When the earthquake struck, the McLeods were in a building that collapsed. A Sherpa, Pema, dove on top of Tricia to protect her and was hit in the head by a falling brick, according to a report from Dennis Parsons, a family friend.
They ended up sleeping in their clothes with their backpacks at their side incase an aftershock occurred, which eventually hit and they ended up in a self-refugee camp with roughly 50 other people
On Sunday, they headed to Shurke, an area that wasn’t badly damaged and had a functioning helicopter pad. The locals also opened their homes to tourists and refugees and the McLeods and Pema were able to get some rest.
From Shurke, they went to Lukla, which has a hospital and Pema was able to get some medical attention and antibiotics.
“The group they are with is concerned about running out of resources soon, so they are going to move on to a smaller town named Chuplung, and about 1.5-hour trek from where they were this morning,” said Parsons. “They are experiencing after shocks, and have changed their plans to go to Kathmandu.”
•Robyn Duncan and Kara Brissette are safe in Kathmandu in an American military compound and are waiting for an available flight to get back to Canada.
•Annie Coulter and Jim Campbell are also travelling through the country. According to Coulter’s brother, Dave, there hasn’t been any contact yet with the two.
There is also a connection with David and Patricia Stock, two retired teachers who head up the Canadian Friends of Nepal, which helps support roughly a dozen families and a small school in the country.
There has been limited communication from the families; one family is safe but out on the streets in Kathmandu, while another family in Kuttal—a little village near Kathmandu, are safe even though their house partially collapsed.
Though the Stocks have been in Nepal many times in the past, they are currently on a trip travelling through China.
Gordon Terrace Elementary School has been involved with the group, as students have raised $6,000 every year since 2011 that they’ve sent to the ‘hot pink’ (named due to the choice of the outside paint job) school near Kuttal, where local primary-aged kids can go to school during the day while their parents work.
Through the influence of the Stocks, Gordon Terrace staff and students first began raising money four years ago to build the school.
“My school definitely has a vested interest,” said Michelle Sartorel, principal for Gordon Terrace. “I woke up Saturday morning and had emails from my staff concerned about people over in Nepal.”
Gordon Terrace is hosting their bi-annual Celebration Of The Arts in conjunction with a Mother’s Day sale on Thursday, May 7, with funds raised normally going to the hot pink school, however, given the circumstances inside the country, Sartorel is talking with staff and students about redirecting the money to humanitarian relief and support.
With files from the Canadian Press