(Originally posted December 2016)
By Steve Richards
Christmas in Nepal. The weather is sunny and a “coolish” 60’s in the day and 40’s at night in Kathmandu--and Christmas trees are everywhere! They can be found in Christian, Buddhist and Hindu households, in front of stores, in malls, everywhere! Just like home. Even Santa Clauses!
We are here for five weeks to complete a revisit to our “Piles of Bricks” documentary. We are going back to the places and people we met last year to see how things are coming with their earthquake recovery.
The world has pledged more than $4 billion for the effort and amazing progress is being made by individuals to get their houses rebuilt. But not with the $4 billion. That money seems to be in the clouds. We’ve met no one, no organization, no municipality that points to any of those funds as being significant to their rebuilding (aside from $150 given to homeowners shortly after the quakes in early 2015). And they’re not expecting it.
Homes, monuments, temples and the like are being rebuilt from the ground up by homeowners and independent organizations like the Kathmandu Preservation Trust out of New York City. TheoEco’s director Amit Nepali’s family has completely rebuilt a temporary version of their home complete with brick and plaster walls, a new bathroom, four bedrooms, a new kitchen, a living room, a recording studio, and so on. All with no insurance and virtually no government assistance. Not sure the building code is exactly up to spec but when you have 12 family members close to living in the streets during monsoons, you get moving, apparently. This is the story we hear all over – people doing for themselves as we’ll show in the film coming out in January at our TheoEco Miami Event on the 21st. For a country run mainly by communists, it seems familiarly Republican to us!
We are also shooting a new documentary before the summer concerning a big problem in Nepal: human trafficking. We are doing our first interviews this coming week in Sindupalchowk where we will be able to interview parents, victims, and others involved so that we can relate some of the realities of what is happening from here. Another documentary due in 2017 is on the water situation here, including the drinking water situation in Kathmandu, its almost boundless hydroelectric power potential, and the spiritual uses of the water whether it be Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or other.
We are also busy at home, shooting these past few months: “Miami’s Floods,” which focuses on the water situation in South Florida--and there are intriguing connections with Nepal, which we look for so that we can learn from each other. We are interviewing scientists, the Army Corp of Engineers, museum curators, and many others for this film; starting with the realization that Miami Beach is spending $100’s of millions for pumps, road elevations, and without arguing about what is causing sea-level-rise. It is simply a threat that city leaders feel they must deal with and they let us in for the documenting of a blue-ribbon panel discussion before the last king tides, and we’ve kept running.
But first we need to wrap up “Piles of Bricks–Revisited” and its companion, “The Flourishing Kathmandu Church,” a retrospective of the Christian Church in Nepal also due by the summer.
So, for now, Merry Christmas from Nepal and we hope you enjoy the brief video from your Anglican friends from Golgotha Church in Kathmandu Christmas caroling a few days back at Amit’s house. He’s doing the principal singing and produced this over the past few days as the church’s greeting to all.