Temba Lama is from Langtang region in the Himalayas of Nepal, and is Chairman of Langtang Rebuild Association.
When the earthquake hit in April, the major crisis was actually caused by triggered landslides, making Langtang the most affected region in all of Nepal. Langtang is famous throughout the world as a popular tourist destination for trekking but the 7.8 earthquake has transformed the valley into a barren desert. Temba’s entire village was swept away, taking 170 lives, Temba himself lost 7 immediate family members and 21 in his extended family.
Throughout the interview Temba spoke stoically about the disaster situation and his own personal losses. He says it is still a shock to his system when he recalls that day and all that he lost: “it is very hard…very hard.” He has become dedicated to rebuilding his village and has led the effort to organize relief work and reconstruction. His Buddhist view is to do good work now, even if life is a struggle.
“We made a committee to organize relief and reconstruction in Langtang. I feel like if I work for the village then the deceased will rest in peace – Buddhist view – do good works in this life and you’ll receive your reward later, it is hard.
“We don’t get any government help, and transportation is very expensive. You can’t wait for government here though; we’re working on our own. The road was cut off for months, but now access to the village is secure.
“The damage in Langtang is massive. The hydropower destroyed, guesthouses too- everything is gone. Progress is slow but want to try to rebuild all homes in 2 years. My biggest hope is to rebuild Langtang.
“I don’t think people’s spiritual faith was affected – if anything people are praying more often because death can come at any time. I’ve seen so much of people helping each other; some good has certainly come out of this thing.”