Here are also some short stories demonstrating the difference the helicopter facility is making:
Lakpa and Sanatan, Nepali Volunteers
Lakpa and Sanatan survived the Nepal earthquake intact in Kathmandu, but felt desperate to help their fellow countrymen who were suffering. Through friends and a Facebook plea for volunteers, they and many others began contacting their foreign friends asking for financial help. As money came in, they purchased food and tarps and began delivering to needy areas. Soon they began receiving emails and calls from more remote areas pleading for help. An Indian NGO offered to supply them with relief materials, but they had to pay for transport and the villages were in completely inaccessible mountains.
Frustrated with the cost and delay of hiring a commercial helicopter, a local NGO volunteered to sign up with MAF so the small team could book flights through their organisation. “Before we found out about MAF,” Lakpa says, “We had reached the point of desperation – how to get flights as early as possible and as affordable as possible. We were trying very hard to help the Dhading people.”
Within days of registering, the team flew more than 1700 kilos of food to five villages who had received no help at all until that point.
Dr. Gerda Pohl, Medical Coordinator with PHASE Nepal
“What struck me is that we consider helicopters to be a luxury. They’re usually used to get climbing teams up to base camps, or for hotel owners building a new suite for their guests. The average poor people who live in those villages never get a chance to use a helicopter in their life. But now they actually are completely dependent on air transport to survive, to get essentials like food and shelter, and our health workers.
Everything that needs to go up there needs to go by helicopter at the moment, so that’s why MAF makes such a difference. If you pay for the full cost of a helicopter, it’s almost impossible to carry tons and tons of iron roofing sheets. Kashingaun is about 500 households, and they all need about 100 kilos of iron sheets. So do the math. It’s a lot of helicopters. MAF has enabled us to actually get those corrugated iron sheets out.”
“I knew those communities very well, and I knew that they were all struggling on the edge of going under with poverty. They all had an absolute minimum of possessions and an absolute minimum standard of living, and then they’ve lost even that. Now they’re not there with nothing, but with less than nothing because they’ve got to take down the collapsed houses, dig through the rubble, they’ve all got debts probably anyway, and now they’ve got to borrow money to actually start rebuilding. A lot of families won’t recover.”
PHASE Nepal continues to use MAF helicopters to fly iron roofing sheets, food, and medical personnel into the remote villages cut off from all access in the high mountain area of the Nupri Valley.