The documentary, Five Weeks in Nepal, which won first place at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Festival earlier this year, is continuing to draw attention to the plight of those Nepalese people involved in last year’s devastating earthquake.
Produced and directed by the Cowichan Valley’s own Nick Versteeg, the film is the personal story of his experiences when the big quake struck there on April 25, 2015.
He had actually been in Nepal with his wife filming two projects for Rotary International when he was caught in the disaster and saw its effect on the mountain-ringed country.
After wife, Elly Driessen, returned to Canada Versteeg remained in Nepal and travelled with a friend, primarily with the intention of filming a Seattle-based dentist who was helping widows and orphans of Sherpas in the Mount Everest area.
Versteeg said that what’s happening now is the dentist is back in Khumjung.
“He is doing dental work there at this moment. That’s wonderful because he was able to give us some news that rebuilding efforts are going well. They have rebuilt a lot of the houses,” Versteeg said.
There was plenty of financial support sent over there from Canada.
“We raised about $8,000 [at a presentation in the Cowichan Valley] and with help from the Rotary Clubs in Ontario, a total of $200,000 was raised. Part of our $8,000 has gone for reconstruction to the Khumbu area, which is everything from base camp up to Khumjung. And with the rest of the money they want to restore all the schools in the Khumjung area.”
Other plans include rebuilding Khumbu hospital.
It took a while before reconstruction started, he said.
Part of the problem was that the borders with India were closed for a time. Then, to reach Khumjung itself, it’s a three to four day trek.
“Everything has to be brought in on foot or by donkey. It’s just incredible how long everything takes,” he said.
“What is also worrisome is that all the rocks they use for building have to be chiselled out of the mountain. None of them are straight. They’re rebuilding many of the houses in an identical way to how they were originally built. What could happen next is that they might fall down again.”
Versteeg’s own plans include a return to Nepal next year.
“I would like to do a documentary about Katmandu,” he said. “I want to find out what happened there, who was in charge when the earthquake hit, because we saw only chaos when we were there.”
The documentary is available for download on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fiveweeksinnepal
Two dollors of each download will go to a Nepal Rebuilding Fund.