On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal. It triggered an avalanche in the Langtang Valley, high in the Himalayas at 12,000 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. Although our programming is continually evolving, our work focuses in immediate needs, community development, economic development, and cultural preservation. Our current activities are outlined below.
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, creating a safe and warm Elder House for these vulnerable members of the community.
Green Houses – We are building a 900 square foot, permanent, all-season green house for the community to have access to fresh, healthy food year round.
Village Water Project – We are constructing 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.
Wangal Village Food Distribution
In November 2016, a team of FIRE volunteers distributed much-needed food and supplies to the elderly in the Langtang Valley. It was the first relief effort in the village of Wangal since the earthquake in April 2015.
Volunteer Trips – We offer organized volunteer trips to the Langtang Valley. Our trips include general volunteers as well as specialists who work in support of all of FIRE’s programs.
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 to resell in our downtown thrift store to raise money for Nepal. Our FIREWORKS store is still operating in downtown Flagstaff! Located across from the courthouse, FIREWORKS is Flagstaff’s newest socially responsible store specializing in outdoor gear, fine art prints of Mongolia, Nepal, and Tibet, and a limited selection of cultural gifts including prayer flags and traditional Mongolian wall hangings.
We also have an eBay store! Check our listings before making your way downtown! Help us support local and international development for a better world! Located at 113 E Birch and open Tue-Fri, 12-6pm and Sat-Sun, 12-4pm.
Much of our outdoor inventory is made up of quality, gently used items that have been donated by generous people in the Flagstaff community. Thank you to all our donors! Do you have some gently used outdoor clothing or gear to donate? What we can’t sell, we take to Mongolia and Nepal and give them directly to the people that need them most. To make a donation, please mail or drop off at our downtown store, or call 928-779-2288 to schedule a pick up.
Stories and Videos
- November 2016 – Short film documenting our donation trip to Wangal Village
- 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“