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From Iceland with love

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Anil Thapa of the Nordic High Performance Computing centre in Reykjavik hands over blankets to a villager in Buldang in northern Dhading.

When the earthquake struck Nepal in April, the faculty and students of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik immediately empathised. The mid-Atlantic Nordic island nation is no stranger to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the latest in 2010 of Eyjafjallajökull  caused widespread destruction and also disruption of flights all over Europe.

Led by Nepali computer engineer Anil Thapa (pic, right) who is Team Leader of the Nordic High Performance Computing centre in Reykjavik, volcanologists, geophysicists, researchers, lecturers, professors and staff at the university immediately started a fund-raising drive called Earthquake Victims Support for Nepal.

Thapa, who has been an active fund-raiser for the Help Nepal Network (HeNN) took a part of his summer leave and with the money raised bought tin sheets, food and other relief items in Kathmandu and took them to his native district. While researching the relief so far, he found that the remote villages of northern Dhading had not received any help. So he set off for Sertung and Borlang below Ganesh Himal.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” Thapa recalls of the trip last month. “It was an extremely rough 45km road from Dhading Besi and it took us two days to reach Borlang, with a six hours drive on a very rough road and another seven hours trek past dangerous landslides.”

Nine people had died in Borlang, yet 50 villagers carried the 300 tin sheets, 100 tents, 100 blankets, sleeping mats and medical supplies to the village. Thapa was helped by a group of young volunteers from Kathmandu who rebuilt classrooms of the local school, two community toilets and 10 temporary shelters for villagers.

Two school children in the village were killed, the health post was destroyed, and needs to be rebuilt and staffed with a health assistant. Nepali Times caught up with Thapa before he flew back to Iceland, and he said: “We were a drop in the ocean, the need is great, but I am happy to have at least done something for my motherland from so far away.”


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