On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal. It triggered an avalanche in the Langtang Valley, high in the Himalayas at 12,500 feet. Located on the Tibet border, Langtang is a bus ride and a two day trek from Kathmandu or a half hour helicopter ride. A favorite destination on Nepal’s third most popular trekking route, Langtang National Park and the Langtang Valley offered an idyllic paradise of rock houses, grazing yaks, and traditional people seemingly bypassed by time, high in the snow-capped, majestic Himalayas.
The sky went black. The wind blew with deadly speed, knocking people unconscious, buring others. A landslide with the force of half an atomic bomb, traveled 3,000 feet down a mountainside burying all 116 homes of the village of Langtang under 100 feet of snow, ice and rock. 175 Langtangpas were instantly killed, along with 110 foreign trekkers and 30 Nepali guides. 13 children were left without parents. 400 people survived.
FIRE’s response to earthquakes in Langtang,
Nepal, since May, 2015:
- Distributed $25,000 worth of immediate aid to 60 of the 116 Langtang families, hand-to-hand. This included medical treatment, food, shelter, clothing and blankets.
- Helped build a bridge on the main trail to Langtang Valley.
- Assisted the 13 single elders who wintered in Langtang, the most vulnerable members of the community with 1,100 pounds of aid including food and bedding.
- Built a local team in Kathmandu and Langtang.
- Conducted a needs assessment.
- Identified highest need individuals and families.
- Met with relevant stakeholders, community leaders and local families to determine FIRE’s long-term priorities and outline for sustainable, empowering programming.
- Collected three hours of film footage including 19 interviews from survivors age 8 to 70 in four different languages.
- Opened a used outdoor gear store in downtown Flagstaff, AZ, to raise money for Langtang.
FIRE continues to asses the best and most responsible way to help. We remain flexible as things in Langtang are still rapidly changing and developing. Our current plans for the future are outlined below.
- Assisting the community’s most vulnerable people
- Considering other community requests
- Build homes for the elders
- Facilitate volunteers
- Develop winter tourism
- Assist with tourism capacity building
- Research income diversification opportunities
- Through the Ed Fund, support local archive work
- Follow the reconstruction process over the next several years through the Ed Fund
Elder Care – FIRE is supporting 13 ‘orphaned’ elders in the Langtang Valley. These are older individuals who live in temporary shelters at 13,000 feet with no family to care for them. FIRE provides food and other services for them. We also moved them into an empty guest house for the coldest winter months.
Green Houses – We plan to build a 900 square foot, permanent, all-season greenhouse for the community to have access to fresh, healthy food year round.
Village Water Project – We will build two water tanks and six taps to bring water directly to the new village of Langtang from the river source, a 20-minute walk away.
Cultural Heritage Project – FIRE is working with local individuals and as well as local and international organizations on the Langtang Memory Project and Heritage Trail. This includes interactive stops along a multi-mile stretch of the Langtang Trail and construction of a Heritage Center designed by the community, for the community.
Volunteer Trips – Organized volunteer trips will begin in Spring 2017. These will include general volunteers as well as specialists who will work in support of all of FIRE’s programs.
FIREWORKS – In March 2015, the communities of Sun Valley, Hailey and Ketchum, Idaho donated 5,000 pounds of high quality, name brand winter clothing to FIRE. A socially responsible store specializing in outdoor clothing was born. All proceeds support the elders of Langtang who survived the winter in temporary shelters. “Local Wares for Global Change.” 113 E Birch, Tuesday – Saturday, 10-4.
Stories and Videos
- April 2016 – FIRE Nepal Program Update
- April 24, 2016 – Daily Sun Article, “Flagstaff’s dollars helping Nepalese community rebuild“
- April 22, 2016 – BBC Video, “Return to a town buried in Nepal earthquake“
- March 2016 – FIRE Photos, Spring Distribution in Langtang
- November, 2015 – FIRE Video, “Ang Dolma“
- May 4, 2015 – BBC Video, “Nepal earthquake: ‘Worst-affected’ village of Langtang”
- May 3, 2015 – Daily Sun Article “Nepal quake hits home in Flagstaff“