Humanitarians from Monaco in Nepal during seism
All the Monegasques and residents present in area of the Rigaon at the moment of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that ravaged Nepal on April 25, have returned to the Principality safe and sound. They were part of an ongoing humanitarian mission essentially composed of members of the associations MAP (Monaco Aide et Presence) including their President Donatella Campioni, NAMASTE, with their President Nancy Dotta, as well as medical doctors from the Princess Grace Hospital (CHPG), as well as a group of alpinists/trekkers, that is a total of 26 people.
After the worst earthquake to hit the region in 80 years, shattering hundreds of thousands of people’s lives with homes and buildings reduced to rubble, the group was cut from the world in the mountains. The presence of the experienced alpinist Jean-Marc Nowak, two satellite telephones and access to provisions and shelter in the village, enabled the group to get organized in spite of the damages suffered on the site, and provided needed help to the wounded villagers. The contingent was rapidly evacuated in helicopters thanks to the local guide company that organised the trek, and they arrived to Katmandu by bus, and camped outside two hotels in the capital, to be safe from new tremors. Several members in the contingent helped the local sanitary authorities in providing assistance to the wounded.
The Monaco Government through the Department of External Relations and Cooperation and the Direction of International Cooperation, immediately got into action to find alternative repatriation solutions, and centralize all information and localization to ensure their safe return home. Furthermore, they have already allocated Euro 105,000 in favor of the Nepalese population affected by the seism.
Donatella Campioni’s vivid description of her experience during the seism
Below is an eloquent account from Donatella Campioni, President of MAP, who was part of the humanitarian contingent from Monaco present in Rigaon during the recent massive earthquake:
“Finally we are back and safe from Nepal, while some of our group are still travelling back. It has been nightmare! We had two different groups that fatidic day, I was with three others still on the village in the mountain, waiting for helicopter to go down to town, and the others were left walking down to the valley.
At 12:00 noon the earthquake started. It was very scary, the mountains were shaking, and we became isolated. Several people started to arrive with wounded children to be treated, so we started an open-air medical camp take care of them the way we could. We spent that day with little eat and camping out for the night. Many mothers with their children spent the night with us. Then more tremors came. Many rural villages had been totally destroyed and some of our school buildings have been severely damaged. But the most devastating is to assist the suffering of the mothers crying for their badly wounded children.
The following day the helicopter arrived rescuing those of us in the mountains and also the group in the valley, flying all of us to Kathmandu. We camped in the garden of a hotel, then early in the morning we went to the airport thanks to our travel agents who found tickets back to Europe, but some of us spent 24 hours at the airport where thousands were camping. God bless all those people we left behind in the mountain, they had very little, now they have even less… This is tearing our hearts apart!”
The humanitarian contingent of the Monegasque mission may have left the affected area, but they have not forgotten the people they have been continuously supporting for many years. Both associations have launched an emergency appeal to help the habitants of Rigaon, composed of 27 villages in a mountainous zone at an altitude of 2000 meters, in the district of Dhading, an already underprivileged area of the North-West of Katmandu severely touched by the seism.
By contacting Monaco Aide et Presence & NAMASTE you will learn how you can make a donation through these associations, who will deliver lifesaving relief to survivors on site and provide the resource families need to rebuild their homes.
Images of hope
Instead of showing photos of the current devastation and suffering I chose to show images taken during the many trips organized by MAP and NAMASTE in the area of Rigaon, where they built schools for the little villagers, like the photo of the Shamas celebration of the High School opening a day before the seism. They are a message of hope, reconstruction and a bright future.