I woke up around 5 am, the compound was already light. After a hasty breakfast, four of us with 2 interpreters packed a daypack and 2 porters who would carry water and our bag of medicines, left for Fulpinkitta. We traced our way back on the same narrow rocky road and reached Hindi where we met a healthcare provider who showed us the private health post that was destroyed by the earthquake; a 2-story building buckled down to one-story. Houses around there were reduced to rubble and villagers were removing salvageable furniture.
The healthcare person, a robust sun-tanned woman with a ready smile took us to the stone steps that marked the beginning of our steep ascent up the mountain. After hiking over rubble, through corn field, destroyed homes and a tractor turned on its side, we reached an orange tent where she told us that she is running her clinic temporarily. From there our hike alternated between very steep steps and rocky paths. We were trailed by some women, children and a few old men; all of whom took the hike in stride. Hiking is part of their daily life. Across the valley, at regular intervals we saw landslides plunging rocks and dirt down into the valley below.
Parts of our hike were rather steep and strenuous and after two and a half of hiking we reached a stupa gaily decked with colorful prayer flags. From there we had a spectacular view of the valley way down below. They villagers picked a very peaceful spot for the stupa. From there it was a short hike to the clinic which had also been destroyed despite remaining standing. Rubble filled the consultation room and the pharmacy shelves were down with the broken walls. Up the slope the old school house was destroyed and the new one remained standing. This was where many of those who were left homeless came to sleep.
The local healthcare person who was also a woman told us that she saw between 5 to 7 persons a day and delivered babies now at their homes. Many curious villagers gathered thinking that perhaps we would run a clinic but we decided to provide some medicines for her to use. We swallowed a granola bar but could not really eat because of the crowd. A little kid followed us up and down the mountain with the greatest of ease. I shared my bar with him and as we hiked down I slipped another one into his pocket. A young mother hiked all the way to the clinic hoping to have her baby with a cold taken care of but she left empty-handed, we failed to pack liquid paracetamol. In this village eight people died from the earthquake and seventeen people were evacuated to Kathmandu. Our assessment was that Fulpinkitta does not have immediate medical needs.
On our way down we ran into villagers hauling on their back 10 to 30 kg of crates of apples given by the Chinese government. Unfortunately, the hiking path was littered with wrappers of the apples as well as other snacks. One villager stopped to rest and offered us apples despite the fact that he and his family were most in need of food. His generosity touched me greatly and although I would love an apple, I thanked him and declined politely.
A cold shower after a hot long hike was soothing to the soul. However in the midst of it, the ground rumbled and the door rattled. I told myself this was an aftershock, I should run out of this building but had to choose between running out stark naked versus being crushed by falling debris. It did not last long and then I thought perhaps it was some impatient person rattling the door but it was indeed an aftershock.
We have been sent to various villagers now without ever finding real medical needs. It seems that the immediate real needs are food and shelters.