17 June a huge
disaster stroke the most important pilgrimage sites of the Himalayas,
Kedarnath, Gangotri and Badrinath, which are busiest at this time of
This whole area was ravaged by the downpour that fell in a few minutes.
Kedarnath is the most affected, as a dam and a moraine lake located
above the site buckled under the pressure of the water and of a huge
chunk of ice that broke off. All Himalayan glaciers are retreating due
to global warming.
pilgrims were trapped and the villages destroyed; more than a thousand
people have died and many more are missing. All three Ganges valleys
have been affected down to Haridwar. The water rose by 11 metres in
Devprayag and entire buildings fell into the river in Uttarkashi. Many
villages have been wiped off the map, like Gaurikund to name but one.
In France, the media have been on and on about the disaster in Lourdes
but hardly informed us about what has happened in North India.
Find out more about the floods on the internet:
Time World, The Guardian & Mail Online.
Thanks to the fundraising actions we did throughout the summer of 2013, we collected 1025 € to be able to go on a support mission in the Himalayas in the following autumn.
At the end of November 2013 we thus decided to go to Rishikesh to meet Atma. This English woman is the founder of the Atma Seva Trust association, which delivers various supporting programs in Himalayan mountain locations. Atma had told us that nobody was taking care of the small villages where irrigation systems, house roofs and crops had been destroyed. After 7 hours on a tortuous road, we met Atma in Sitacot where a medical camp was running and two doctors were attending villagers who had come with health problems. We took a tour of the village and its surroundings, and indeed we saw dismantled stone roofs and a broken canal, which had caused water shortages.
In the village we were told that various projects were running, for example one to improve drinking water and another to set up an orchard that was more profitable than cereals. Someone suggested that we take part with the fundings, and we thought it was a good idea, but we preferred to help people directly affected by the catastrophe. So we decided that our money would fund roof reparation, as some families were still housed by their neighbours.
It was agreed. The Atma Seva Trust association helped us because 1025 € were not enough. Atma implemented the works whilst farmers provided wood and dealt with girder work. A professional put metal sheets supplied by Atma. The work is now complete.
This stay in the Himalayan village was also an opportunity for us to live a piercing human experience. To find out more about this, you may read our newsletter (in French only).
Link to: Atma Seva Trust Association