by Mark Kelly
KATHMANDU, Nepal (BP) — Nepal earthquake survivors have begun receiving relief supplies provided by Southern Baptists. A Baptist Global Response assessment team, meanwhile, has made it to the quake’s epicenter and found an architect to help assess homes and buildings so survivors can know whether they are safe.
The death toll from the April 25 quake has risen past 7,500 and many rural communities are troubled that relief supplies are not reaching them, according to news reports.
“A source of rice has been secured and our team and their partners have been able to make deliveries in the first two communities,” BGR Executive Director Jeff Palmer said. “In one of these — a community of 45 homes that was completely destroyed — these were the first relief goods the community had seen.”
The BGR disaster assessment and response team (DART) arrived in Nepal May 1 and noted much of the international aid effort is focusing on Kathmandu, the capital city. Outlying areas, where the destruction is most severe, are in great need.
“The DART team will see what the general needs are and what’s already being done by the government and other aid organizations,” said Francis Horton, who is coordinating the Southern Baptist response. “Our goal is to look for gaps, people who are still in need and are getting overlooked.”
Nepalis are beginning to get over the initial shock of the destruction and must now come to terms with the long-term reality of rebuilding their lives, said Pat Melancon, BGR’s managing director of disaster response and training.
“In the initial week after the disaster, people are not sure what’s needed for long term. Everyone is focused on just surviving,” Melancon said. “Now the reality hits of getting past that stage and starting life.”
While most relief organizations will focus on urban areas and leave within a few weeks, Southern Baptists are known for a long-term response that helps people with more than just survival needs, Melancon said, adding, “We are normally just getting ramped up when everyone else pulls out.”
BGR is partnering in the earthquake response with the Disaster Response Christian Coalition, a group of 10 local Christian groups — many of them trained by BGR just this past February — working together to address the quake and make known the love of Christ to those who are suffering, Palmer said.
Palmer asked Baptists to pray particularly for the group.
“They are already stretched and need some rest. Many are responding to huge needs but also have needs for their own families,” Palmer said. “Pray for them to get rest and be refreshed in the midst of the chaos.”
Palmer expressed gratitude to God that BGR is finding rice sources, transport and local partners to help in the distribution. He asked friends to continue praying for wisdom and understanding as team members take in the scope of the destruction and make plans for long-term response.