A NEPAL earthquake survivor is urging Silhillians to dig deep and help get much-need medical and food supplies to families devastated by the tragedy.
Heather Pratt – friend of Solihull Observer Deputy Editor Sarah Judkins – is based out in Nepal’s second largest city Pokhara, working with the charity Global Vision International (GVI) as part of its childcare team.
She has spoken of the moment the earthquake hit on Saturday morning (April 25) and the devastating effects it has had on the country.
The 26-year-old was relaxing on her day off with the rest of the childcare team and a Nepali family she is staying with when the quake struck.
She said: “We were confused at first but our Nepali interpreter calmly told us to get to a doorway where it is safer.
“The ground shook for around two minutes and we could hear lots of Nepali people screaming.
“The first aftershock was a short while after and we stayed outside for the rest of the day in a big open space.”
Saturday’s earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and aftershocks have been measuring from 6.5 to 4 on the scale.
It shook the lives of at least 5.3m people, left many homeless across the country and over 5,000 people have so far been confirmed dead.
Nepal’s major cities, including the capital Kathmandu, have been badly damaged and rural areas near the epicentre have been completely cut off by avalanches.
Pokhara, where Heather is staying, has not had much damage as buildings are modern.
Despite this, Heather’s group slept outside in tents for the first two nights post-quake and are now sleeping downstairs in the house in case they need to evacuate.
Many local families are still sleeping outside with just minimal protection provided by the straw bales where their animals would usually sleep.
Grateful of their safety, Heather and the team are now concentrating their efforts on supporting those whose lives have been turned upside down by providing support and fundraising.
And they are urging people to dig deep and help the fight – with money from overseas vital to the mission to deliver aid and medicine to the more remote, cut-off areas.
Heather added: “We are collecting clothes locally to donate, and fundraising through the GVI charitable fund to buy shelter such as tents, medicines, food supplies and water purification.
“School is not on at the moment, so we also have been spending time packaging up clothing donations, writing leaflets to be translated to Nepali and distributed to our local communities on things like diarrhoea, hygiene, basic first aid.
“I would urge anyone and everyone to donate to the disaster appeal in whatever way they can – the people of Nepal need help and need it now.”
For more or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/gviemergency-nepal
Alternatively text the word Nepal to 70000 to give £5 to the Disasters Emergency Committee or visit the local post office to help families in need.
A “999” PO Box has been set up by Royal Mail to speed donations to the appeal.
Donations can be sent by post to: DEC Nepal Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 999. LONDON, EC3A 3AA.
Cheques sent by post should be made payable to DEC Nepal Earthquake Appeal.
THREE members of West Midlands Ambulance Service staff are also en-route to Nepal to assist in the humanitarian rescue operation.
Medical Incident Officer Dr Malcom Russell, Paramedic Steve Watkins and Hazardous Area Response Team (Hart) paramedic Simon Greenfield all have specialist training to help in such disasters.
NINE West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) firefighters have been deployed to Nepal as part of international rescue efforts.
The West Midlands contingent have taken heavy rescue equipment, and will lead on co-ordination of the UK response on the ground, including vital communications, transport and IT support.