Disaster Relief at Eye Level [55 PHOTOS]

It isn’t until you leave the city of Kathmandu that you can really see the destruction that the earthquakes have caused.

Nepal is made up of 75 districts, 12 of which were absolutely crushed by the earthquakes. Within those 12 districts there are countless towns and villages that have been, and continue to be, greatly effected by the quakes.

Many of which will never exist again.

Through the great work of Active Hearts Himalaya and the donations that keep rolling in, we are able to help stabilize one village (and a few surrounding communities) in a moment of life-changing devastation.

The most difficult aspect of this story is that it’s still developing…

You’ve all seen the massive aftershocks that have hit Nepal since the initial quake, but what the media doesn’t explain is that an equally life-threatening occurrence is on its way.

Monsoon season is quickly approaching.

All of the loose rocks and cracked land caused by the quakes will now make landslides and flooding even more dangerous than usual.

A large majority of the villages effected are built along mountains and valleys, so now with no homes to protect them, the tents and make-shift shelters won’t be safe for long. 

The Active Hearts team is working quickly to come up with a solution, but it’s not easy.

The whole situation isn’t easy. It will take years for these villages to just get back to square one. 

On top of bracing for additional aftershocks (almost daily occurrence) and preparing for monsoon season, many families are at greater risk now of a terrible epidemic here in Nepal… Human Trafficking.

An estimated 15,000 people are taken from Nepal each year to be forced into sexual exploitation and slave labor in India, Thailand and across Asia.  

Now, with the influx of aid workers and foreigner volunteers without much regulation, traffickers use this as an opportunity to lure in women and children.

“Traffickers often pose as recruiters, offering non-existent jobs to desperate young women and girls, whose plight has become worse after the earthquake. Another ploy is to claim a rich husband is willing to marry the girl in a different city, but when they arrive they are forced into sex work.” – The Independent

The reality of just how difficult this moment is for the Nepali people is impossible to comprehend. 

Our only goal is to just try and make it a little bit easier for them.

Given the size and scope of those effected, our involvement meant very little to the overall cause, but to the people of Gogane and the surrounding villages, our involvement meant everything.

Luckily, there are many amazing people throughout the country working to support those in need. I just wish every village could be so fortunate.


On the team’s first trip to the village of Gogane after the initial earthquakes, we brought food, supplies and two nurses to help with the recovery.

Here’s the scene…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - The Village of Gogane

Nepal Earthquake Relief - The Village of Gogane

Nepal Earthquake Relief - The Village of Gogane

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Women Working

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Smiling Neighbor

Nepal Earthquake Relief - The Crew

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Siblings

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Brothers

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Singe Mother

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Friends

This was their school…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - School Destroyed

Below is one of the multi-family shelters that was constructed after the initial earthquake. In front of that are the blue tents that our group slept in each night. Note also the generator purchased with donations from Active Hearts sitting in the corn crop.

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Shelter and Tents

At night, families would pack themselves into the wood beds under the weighted down tarp roofs and hope the tin walls held up against the wind and rain…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Shelter for Village

My alarm clock every morning…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Alarm Clock

Breakfast is served!

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Cooking Breakfast

All of our meals were cooked right here over a fire. For breakfast it was delicious noodle soup and warm buffalo milk, and for lunch and dinner it was the Nepali staple, Dal Bhat – rice and lentils with potato and whatever vegetables were close by (usually tomatoes and spinach).

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Women of the Kitchen

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Cooking

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Dal Bhat

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

The medical clinic was setup for two days in a row and our resident nurses, Kelsey and Jenna saw over 400 people. From newborn babies to fragile old men, broken limbs to dysentery, they worked tirelessly to ensure everyone was seen!

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent Day One

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent Day Two Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Medical Tent

And, here’s my contribution to the medical tent… letting the kids paint my face and put on garbage rings while they wait to see the nurses. Whatever it takes.

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Patch Adams

While the medical tent was in full swing, we put together a bag of essentials for each family. This included rope, foam mats, tarp, flashlight, fleece hats, hygiene products, and a few sets of clean clothes for children.

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Survival Packages

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Survival Packages

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Survival Packages

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Survival Packages

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Happy Father

We also distributed massive bags of rice to each family…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Rice Distribution

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Rice Distribution

Once the work was done, we pulled out a few essential supplies for the kids…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Pumping up the soccer ball

Mom watching her kids run off to play…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Mom watching kids run off

Extreme close up…

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Surpirse

The last few days puts a lot of things into perspective about what’s important in life.

The Nepali people have an unbelievable spirit filled with love, compassion and an unwavering ability to persevere. They have an incredible ability of handling absolute chaos and destruction with grace and poise.

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Wisdom

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Buds
Nepal Earthquake Relief - Young Mothers

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Women of Nepal

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Children of Nepal

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Village Leaders

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Village Leaders Looking Over

Above, some of the village leaders looking out at all the work that still needs to be done. Below, a full moon rises as the girls enjoy dinner together after a long day.

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Dinner

After one overwhelmingly heavy, yet, incredibly inspiring week in the village, it was time for us to say goodbye so that we could go back to Kathmandu and work on the next delivery of supplies.

The entire village came out to thank us and bless our trip back to the city. They gifted us with flowers, prayer scriptures, and traditional scarfs as a token of their appreciation.

I have never felt so humbled in my life.

Nepal Earthquake Relief - The Village Came Out to Say Goodbye

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Dan Saying Goodbye

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Accepting Gifts of Safe Travels

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Saying Goodbye

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Goodbye Photo

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Leaving the Village

Nepal Earthquake Relief - Goodbye


The Active Hearts Himalaya team is planning to load up another two jeeps to bring to the village and surrounding communities later this week.

From there, the team and village leaders will survey the landscape for potential monsoon dangers (giant loose rocks, cracked roads, water drainage routes, etc) and try to come up with a solution for safe housing.

Along with building material for shelter, supplies still need to be purchased for the school, and additional food rations will be needed in the coming weeks.

Your continued support means everything to us and these people. Thank you.

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My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

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