Updates Regarding the Langtang Community in Kathmandu

May 22, 2015.

Today, a puja was held today in memory of the people of the Langtang Valley who were lost during the April 25th earthquake and the avalanche that buried the village of Langtang. The event was held outside of the Yellow Gompa camp, at Mustang Gompa in Swayambunath, where hundreds of people gathered to honor the souls of the deceased. It was an intense but beautiful day.

Reflecting the intense mix of sorrow and urgency that characterizes life around the camp, an open meeting of the Langtang Disaster Management and Reconstruction Committee – the elected leadership of the displaced Langtang community – was held immediately following the meeting. This meeting discussed several important issues, the three major issues being:

1. The creation of their own Langtang Valley Disaster Relief Fund (fund established, website pending) which will give them important autonomy and agency in determining the dimensions of reconstruction… Rasuwa Relief and other groups have enthusiastically agreed to support this effort and help encourage direct donations to Langtang via this fund.

2. Current plans for the improvement of the camp at the Yellow Gompa which include the construction of large overarching bamboo ‘greenhouse’ structures that will provide both better monsoon shelter and covered community space – construction to commence on Sunday, thanks to the initiative of Amit @ Sustainable Steps Nepal.

3. VERY IMPORTANT – A meeting with Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to be held tomorrow morning at 8am, which will give the leadership of the Langtang community an opportunity to voice their current needs and to directly communicate their desire to resettle themselves in the Langtang Valley post-monsoon. At today’s meeting, a preliminary plan was discussed that would involve multiple stages of a) further recovery and excavation in the near-term, b) periodic short visits during the monsoon, to conduct scientific risk assessments, c) the resettlement of some of the population to work toward reconstruction, perhaps making use of temporary structures, and d) full resettlement for all of the community members who wish to return.

Regarding resettlement, the question of agency is a major one in the current political climate, but we at Rasuwa Relief fully support the right for the Langtang community to make their own decision.

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