It took me and my guide and right hand man Sandesh 3 hours bouncing around in an Indian 4WD to travel 20kms into Gorkha Bazaar and hit made roads again.
Roads is probably an exaggeration as even in Kathmandu the potholes are big enough to swallow small children.
The mud and clay tracks connecting remote areas are unbelievably bad with multiple packed-to-the-gunwhales buses traversing them every day.
Once they get badly enough bogged much pushing and wheel-spinning eventually gets them through until the next one comes along.
I saw one man standing up to his waist in wheel ruts, trying to fill the yawning chasm with rocks. All very character building.
The small education group in Bhulbhule consisted of a couple of teachers from Black Hill and Melton and their task was to renovate the staff room for the teachers.
To my surprise, the school had large metal gates with Aussie Action Abroad in big letters across them – a testament to how long the Ballarat-based charity has been going to the area.
The bush telegraph works brilliantly well in Nepal too as deputation after deputation would descend from the surrounding mountain villages with neatly typed or handwritten submissions for help with projects in their communities.
Rather than straight hand-outs, Graeme insists on detailed proposals, material costings and community involvement before any money is committed.
As he explains, there has to be community ownership otherwise the expectation is just of hand-outs and a welfare society.
In the course of one day, I sat in on at least a dozen such groups ranging from school committees, community centres and women’s health groups asking for help.
One incident highlighted to me just how lucky we are in Australia when, walking back from the school, Lucy and I came across a family with a young boy with third degree burns to his shoulder and back.
He had apparently felt nauseous about an hour before we arrived and had fallen into the fire and a pot of boiling water tipped over him and caused severe burns.
His 14-year-old sister was able to explain that his father was working overseas and she asked whether we may have some medicine.
It transpired that his mother had sought rudimentary help at the nearby medical centre but that only consisted of some ointment and a couple of bandages.
She couldn’t afford the $15 for an ambulance to come from nearby Besisahar.
Needless to say we couldn’t get the money to the family fast enough.
Even then the money had to go through an intermediary as it would’ve potentially caused unrest if we donated directly.
As of a week ago he was still in hospital but had been transferred to a larger, better equipped hospital in Kathmandu.
What we take for granted is a luxury in poorer countries.
If you would like to join Ballarat’s efforts to help rebuild Nepal or find out more contact email@example.com or facebook.com/aussieactionabroad
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