Back in 1995, as part of a world tour, I spent a month in Nepal. I remember how wonderful the people I encountered there were; gentle, hospitable and friendly, it made my visit all the more memorable. When I heard about the earthquakes that shocked the area earlier this year, a full 20 years after my initial visit, I knew I wanted to return. Recently I did just that, arriving in Kathmandu on 23 September for a ten-day stay. My intention was to use my camera to document some of the reconstruction efforts in Kathmandu and Sankhu, a village near the city that was left devastated by the earthquake. Upon my arrival, I was met with some scenes of destruction and turmoil, but more importantly of resilience and community.
The physical aspects of these people's lives were destroyed, the earthquakes literally shaking them to their cores. Buildings were completely demolished and old temples seemingly damaged beyond total repair. Homes had been wrecked and personal items remained lost amongst the piles of bricks and rubble that still covered a lot of the area, not yet remedied by the cleanup efforts. Many families had been left homeless, living in tents.
Despite this, the spirit of these people, as they worked tirelessly to piece back their lives and homes, shined through the bleak atmosphere of debris and suffocating humidity that surrounded them. Men and women worked together dismantling the earthquake damaged houses brick by brick. They worked by way of pure manual labour, something that must be exhausting in the heat. Simple repairs are not an option for some buildings and the locals were forced to continue to tear them down and rebuild them from scratch.
It's a painfully slow process that in many places will take years to get back to normality as these people try to bring their villages back from the brink.