It is the two-year anniversary of the 2015 mega-earthquake(s) in Nepal. The April 25 quake registered 7.8 on the Richter scale as did the May 12 mega-aftershock. Many thousands died and untold numbers of homes destroyed. Over four billion dollars in aid and rebuilding funds were pledged as the world cane to Nepal’s relief.
TheoEco is currently producing a secular sister guerilla documentary feature film to our recently released The Flourishing Kathmandu Church, about the earthquake rebuilding efforts. In it we document the current state of residential housing and other projects, go to the villages, interview citizens, business people, and politicians, in the Kathmandu valley and Gorkha, all to try to answer the question.
We went to Kathmandu after the monsoons in September of 2015 and started filming for more than two months. And we went back late last year and kept filming through January of this year. The original “Piles of Bricks” was never widely released as the updated footage begged to be included—it wanted to show the before and after, especially with the mountain of money that would surely make such a difference in people’s lives.
While there has certainly been much accomplished in the rebuilding efforts of temples, a swanky new shopping mall in Lalitpur, and many private citizens rebuilding their homes as best they can, few have received more than a few hundred dollars to rebuild. Which all leads to a big question: Where’s the $4B? No one seems to know.
Many of the same folks from The Flourishing Kathmandu Church are in the new film, this time in their mostly secular capacities. We see their state of affairs shortly after the quakes in 2015, and again a year-plus later. We track much of the progress, or lack thereof, for all to see, and question.
Surely, there are many reasons for the lack of apparent progress, like the Indian blockade, and the fact that the country is a new democracy still finding its way. But most with familiarity with Nepal think that corruption and a lack of transparency has much to do with the lack of funds making their way to the citizens.
Why does it matter? Because there was a great deal of attention and outpouring at the time of the quake, and many countries, businesses, and individuals promised huge sums when the pictures hit the media back in April of 2015. The monies need to get to where they are needed most, not hung up or evaporating. Not only for the Nepalese, but for the next disaster on par with Nepal’s. Otherwise, all may think twice before extending a hand as they did so generously this time.
As we see in the film, people are not counting on the government, or the aid. Many are already rebuilding their homes from resources collected by family members deciding to live together with their extended families. We see families in the villages and in Kathmandu with little more than a zinc sheet covering old brick walls which are a danger of collapsing in on themselves.
The film is produced and directed by Steve and Bobbie Richards of TheoEco, who originally departed to Kathmandu in 2015. There they were introduced to Amit Nepali by the Anglican Church. Amit acts as editor, interpreter, guide, composer, and other key roles in the film. Filmed and edited in Nepal, Piles of Bricks (Revisited) is almost two years in the making and scheduled for release in July 2017.