Show Us The Aid: Anger In An Ancient Nepali Town
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
There are more signs of progress today in some parts of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. It's been nearly a week since the deadly earthquake. The power is back on, if sporadically. More shops and cafes have reopened, and the streets are again teaming with taxis and scooters. But that is hardly the case in places just a few miles outside the capital. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports from one neighborhood that remains cut off from aid.
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: In the ancient city of Bhaktapur, men argue with one another on a rutted dirt road near the local police station.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Foreign language spoken).
SIEGLER: A truck has just driven by with jugs of water, but it didn't stop. Patience is running out. It's less than a 45-minute drive from Kathmandu's international airport, they say. Yet promised blankets, tarps and food haven't arrived. The historic gate entrance to old Bhaktapur is about the only thing still standing. The famous ornate temples crumbled. The brick homes reduced to rubble. People have lost everything, including loved ones.
I'm walking through an improvised hut where 70 people are living. There are flies everywhere, a couple of pregnant women. People here say they haven't had any help from the outside - no medicine, no food, nowhere to go but here.
DEV SAHI: (Foreign language spoken).
SIEGLER: The man doing most of the talking is Dev Sahi. He's wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses. "Where is the Nepal government," he says. "Only those with influence are getting supplies. Some people even had to fight for their tents." Our translator, Thakur Amgai, says these men have a message.
THAKUR AMGAI: I mean, we would like to tell this to the world that if you want to give relief, don't give it to the government because the government is not giving to us. Give the relief directly to the people.
SIEGLER: This part of Bhaktapur also has many elderly people. Not far away, a woman named Annapurna Rajbhandari has her arm around her 78-year-old mother, who shakes with fear.
ANNAPURNA RAJBHANDARI: (Foreign language spoken).
SIEGLER: They're both wearing the traditional Nepali saal (ph) wrapped across their red dresses. As Rajbhandari shares her story, her mother starts to cry softly. "My mother's medicine was buried," she says.
RAJBHANDARI: (Foreign language spoken).
SIEGLER: "And all the shops are closed," she says, "so we can't even find any basic medicine." It's now nearly a week since the earthquake, and criticism about the government's response has only sharpened. People continue to live under tarps or out in the open without running water or toilets. One bit of good news - there's been a break in the rain. Helicopters are now able to fly in supplies to some of the hardest-hit areas. But there's still confusion about how the aid is getting distributed.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: What is the weight of this?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: The weight - we don't weight.
SIEGLER: Here, the pilot of an Indian military helicopter is asking Nepalese soldiers how many bags of rice they can load.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I want 600 kg - only 600.
SIEGLER: Some of the bags have to be taken off. They're making room for a TV crew from New Delhi. Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Bhaktapur, Nepal. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.