On 15th June 2013, while most people were watching the live streaming of disaster victims getting rescued from the Kedarnath shrine and other affected regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, I was stuck in Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) for 5 days with a dear friend Simon Valdenaire.
Kinnaur was the worst affected districts in HP, with the only roads connecting Kinnaur to the rest of the country closed due to landslides. The river Sutlej was swelling and had damaged electric and water lines, cutting off power and water supplies. It was cold and was still raining. It rained for straight 3 days and nights, no relief! Finally on the morning of 18th June, we saw some sunshine, but along with it, we could see the destruction these rains and landslides had caused. Houses were broken, roads were beyond repair, farmlands and orchards were destroyed!
Later, the next day, we even got electricity and television back and started seeing the widespread destruction in other part of Himalayas. Media and state governments all over the country were pressurizing the local governments to rescue all tourists. Unfortunately, many had died and a few had gone missing, but I knew that all the surviving tourists, including myself would be rescued very soon. We would get back to our intact homes in different parts of the country, but what about the locals? They had lost almost everything they had: their farmlands, their houses, cattle and loved ones!
Finally after 5 days, while we were getting rescued by one of the helicopters to Shimla, I looked down into the valley and promised to myself that I would come back and work for those affected by this disaster. Simon joined too! So deep was the impact on our hearts that 2 months later, we were back in the Himalayas! And this time not as a tourist, but as volunteers to work for those affected!
Rest of the
story is the
creation of Aarohana EcoSocial Developments and then reCharkha - The EcoSocial Tribe! Explained in further detail at www.recharkha.org
A hell of an experience, starting with nature's destruction to people's rehabilitation!