Gala’s Ongdi tells of destruction in Nepal

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Galashiels resident Ongdi Sherpa knows just how difficult the relief operation will be in his native Nepal, following April’s earthquake.

Ongdi, who has lived in the Borders since 2007, belongs to Nepal’s well-known Sherpa clan, which famously provides the legendary Himalayan mountain guides.

In fact, Ongdi, who lives in Galashiels with wife, Alison, and five-year-old daughter, Tamzin, spent 2000 to 2007 working as a mountain guide.

His recent trip to Nepal had intended to include his friend from Caddonfoot, Robert Grieve, and another, but the latter two had to cancel for family reasons.

“I had been planning to take them up to base camp on Mount Everest,” Ongdi, who works in the Subway sandwich shop in Galashiels, told us this week. “My home village of Dimbul lies in the eastern part of Nepal, at 2,400m above sea level. So it’s very remote and to get there you have to undertake an 18-hour jeep drive, followed by three days’ trekking on foot.

The earthquake which struck at 11.56am (NST) on April 25 had its epicentre at village of Barpak, in Gorkha district, at a depth of approximately 15km.

It was the most powerful disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, and also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 18 climbers at base camp.

It is Nepal’s worst natural disaster in 80 years and the United Nations estimates 8,000,000 people have been affected, with reconstruction costs estimated at $5billion.

The track of the earthquake was recorded on seismographic equipment at the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) monitoring station at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm.

The BGS earthquake seismology team is the UK’s national earthquake monitoring agency and its sensors allow it to monitor both British and overseas earthquakes.

Ongdi was able to contact Alison the day after the earthquake: “Obviously she was very worried. So it was very reassuring to speak to her and let her know I was OK.

“And my parents are OK, but nearly every house is very badly damaged and because it is so remote, I doubt much help, if any, has got through to them.”

Ongdi says it’s vital people in the Borders and elsewhere continue to donate money. In his online blog he states the support Nepal has received has been tremendous.

But he adds: “Big organisations are based in the areas where it’s easy to access and no help has reached the remote areas like my village. Please kindly donate and tell your friends to donate by sharing on Facebook and Twitter – thank you.”

For more information on how to donate to Ongdi’s appeal, email him at ongdis@gmail.com or need@help4nepal.co.uk, or he can be contacted on 07765 207258.