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Bridge2Nepal start their journey with Blue Islands
Guernsey's local aid charity 'Bridge2nepal' was donated flights by Blue Islands from Guernsey to Southampton to begin their journey to the earthquake-struck country.
The first response team of four flew with a huge amount of baggage filled with medical supplies, safety equipment, building materials, protective wear, sterile kits and small children's toys. Due to the substantial amount of baggage required, ten large bags were flown to Southampton the day before for the team to pick up upon their arrival.
The team flew from Guernsey to Southampton, transited to London Gatwick and then flew to Istanbul where they joined the 'Samu' team from Spain, a specialist aid medical team, to travel to Kathmandu together.
Sarah Griffith, founder of the Bridge2 charity, was delighted Blue Islands could step in at the last minute.
Obviously we needed to take an enormous amount of bags and Blue Islands were really kind to us and transported all the team and the bags to Southampton for free, which is amazing. Volunteers normally pay for travel arrangements themselves as well as other expenses so it's an enormous benefit to the team and we are very grateful to Blue Islands for that.
Travelling with Sarah from Guernsey was Dave Matheson, owner of Guernsey town restaurants Red and Rosso, retired surgeon Roger Allsopp and Oliver Westgarth, Chartered Architect and Design Director of CCD Architects and finally, Sarah's son, Sam James joined the team in London.
The team arrived in Kathmandu the next morning at 6.15am and just hours later at 12.35pm a second earthquake hit the area with a magnitude of 7.3 (the previous earthquake was 7.8). In the guesthouse they had arrived at, the owner had just fed the team when it happened and everyone ran to the doorway. It was a long tremor and lasted about 45 seconds. After fleeing the building, the team were bundled into a jeep by their guide Amir and transported across the city to a sports ground. Many other people had gravitated to this safer area.
Throughout their time in Kathmandu, they experienced a series of tremors during the days and night, usually described as 'aftershocks,' however they were between 5 and 6 in magnitude so not to be dismissed. The team slept on concrete floors throughout their time in the city and could feel everything.
After this initial short setback, the team was able to begin work. They had heard of two areas that required medics after the second earthquake and went there to provide first response aid. Once the search and rescue and paramedics arrived, the team moved on to where they originally planned to go.
An orphanage in Dadagaun collapsed after the first Earthquake on 25 April which left 40 children sleeping under canopies next to the now pile of rubble that once was their home. After careful a interview, the Bridge2Nepal team pledged to fund the rebuild of the orphanage.
An integral part of the rebuild was to make sure that the building would stand up better to further earthquakes and the additional worry of monsoon season starting soon. A survey was undertaken and plans developed by Architect Oliver Westgarth along with a local contracting team on the basis of materials readily available. Improvements include upgraded drainage, digging reinforced foundations linked to a reinforced concrete and brick faced half-wall, with a light weight timber structure above using a stronger, vibrated concrete mix and generally ensuring more rigorous building methods on site.
The start of this work marks the beginning of a number of long-term projects for the team and they will be returning in August to develop the build.
Sarah is currently looking for other specialist volunteers to accompany her and help with building projects. She will need more 'hands-on' architects or engineers not afraid to undertake building work, a skilled carpenter and other trades. Medical professionals are also always required, and anyone wishing to get involved should contact Sarah in the first instance.
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