In “Villages” we trek to Gorkha, the epicenter of the 2015 earthquake, and to Lele, a village that actually exhibits even more apparent damage. But, as we show in the documentary, looks are deceiving—both are heavily impacted and people are adapting.
Using a combination of vans, 4WD vehicles, and leg power, we visit Hindus, Christians, and Animists (see if you can pick out the former witchdoctor turned pastor) with damage ranging from cracks to cave-ins. The government’s response? Nil, at least as of the fall of 2015 when this footage was taken and things reportedly haven’t gotten much better (we’ll see for ourselves when we return this summer).
We find an intriguing set of political realities and philosophies exhibited in Nepal. On one hand the government is Maoist-Communist. But the reality is much more in keeping with the situation on the ground. One gets the sense that conservatives in the USA would very much like the people in these villages. Self-reliant and not looking for relief either from their government nor anyone else—and not waiting to rebuild. On the other hand, one villager we interviewed spoke for a family that wasn’t going to touch their former home—now literally a pile of bricks—until officials showed up, afraid if they cleaned things up they wouldn’t receive the two lakh ($2,000) promised. Keep in mind that the Nepali government had so far provided 15,000 rupees ($150) for rebuilding. Just enough for a zinc sheet roof.
Getting to these villages from Kathmandu is a trip, in more ways than one. Shot during the fuel shortage we see long lines queued up for petrol, packed buses with passengers riding on the roof, and commercial trucks giving passengers a ride (us included) at no charge. The trip to Gorkha in particular came after several delays. But a 4WD vehicle was secured which got us to the point where we switched to a 4WD commercial truck, and then climbed.
Walking into these villages the people were obviously very happy to see Reverend Shyam Nepali (Pastor of Golgotha Church (Anglican) in Kathmandu), his son, daughter-in-law, and the rest of our entourage. But this video is not about Christians and features some of the hardest hit areas in Nepal. Husbands and wives living in temporary shelters give us the lowdown. Gorkha has always been a dangerous place and is all the more so now. Buildings are weak as they are mostly made of mud and stones as is demonstrated from the inside out via tours of the houses.
The scenery is, as expected, awesome with flowers blooming and a pastoral reality with its terraced farming. The fuel shortage didn’t affect the villages much as they mainly walk.
And smiles are as ubiquitous as the piles of bricks as we end at a brick factory and a group of kids coming home from school are flashing peace signs.