By Teresa Goncalves, British Red Cross
Eleven months after an earthquake that killed 8,800 people, His Royal Highness Prince Harry visited Nepal Red Cross Society staff and volunteers during his 4-day visit to the Himalayan nation.
Prince Harry spent time with the Red Cross in Bhaktapur, a district that was badly affected by the disaster and which is also one of four strategic locations in the high-population Kathmandu valley where the Red Cross maintains containers of disaster preparedness supplies. It was from here that supplies of blankets, tarpaulins, buckets, clothes, tools and rope were distributed immediately after the 25 April 2015 earthquake. The pre-positioning of these vital emergency items is part of a Nepal Red Cross project that has been supported by the British Red Cross since 2012.
At Bhaktapur, Prince Harry was greeted by Nepal Red Cross Chairman Sanjeev Thapa. He talked to staff and volunteers, including those who were involved in the immediate response after the devastating earthquake. “Preparedness matters”, stressed Prince Harry before he left.
British Red Cross Nepal Country Manager Jill Clements said, “It was an honour to welcome Prince Harry to the project site in Bhaktapur. It is thanks to this project that the Red Cross was able to help a devastated community at a time of great need. It has been almost a year since the earthquakes which took the lives of so many, including some of our own colleagues. We remember them as we continue to work hard within the community to rebuild what was lost.”
While in Bhaktapur, Prince Harry also met with earthquake survivors at a camp for displaced families, many of who are living in tents provided by the Red Cross Society of China. His visit to Nepal comes ahead of the one year anniversary of the earthquake and aftershocks that destroyed almost a million homes.
Local communities trained in first aid and search and rescue by the Red Cross were a vital part of the response, helping thousands of people after the earthquake hit. Almost 8,000 staff and volunteers from the Nepal Red Cross Society carried out first aid and search and rescue operations. They also provided relief items and psychological and emotional support to people caught up in the crisis.
“During the devastating earthquakes last year, we lost our homes, we lost family, friends, colleagues and we even lost our places of work. What we didn’t lose was our sense of community,” said Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, Secretary General of the Nepal Red Cross Society.
“The strength of our dedicated volunteers and courageous neighbours, not only helped save many lives, but has also allowed us to begin to recover, together, from this disaster. This visit from Prince Harry is an honour and an opportunity for us to express our sincerest thanks to all those who helped us and came to our aid when we needed it the most.”
The Nepal Red Cross Society is the largest humanitarian organisation in Nepal. It is playing a prominent role in helping thousands of people across the 14 districts most severely affected by the earthquake, to rebuild their lives.