It’s back to the Himalayas for an earthquake update as Cowichan Valley filmmaker Nick Versteeg’s DV Media presents the premiere of Nepal’s Heartbeat at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday, Sept. 19, starting at 7 p.m.
In the sequel to his eye-opening Five Weeks in Nepal, producer Versteeg takes the audience back to that ravaged country to show what happened with the donations that were made a short two years ago after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people.
The evening, presented by the Rotary Clubs of Duncan and South Cowichan, offer viewers the chance to follow Versteeg and his guide Bibi as well as learning about Rotary’s work.
The first part of the visit was to the Khumbu Valley to see the rebuilding process first hand.
“I said that we would raise money to help out and then within two years I would come back to see what happened with the funding,” said Versteeg. “We did a big event at the theatre here and raised about $8,000. Rotary organized that. The money went to the Edmund Hillary Foundation, based in Toronto, and, together with Rotary Clubs all over Canada, they raised $200,000. That all went into the Khumbu Valley, where we were when the earthquake struck.
“In April I went back and with my guide Bibi we did a whole four-week trip through Nepal. That’s what the documentary is all about. The first part includes a flashback and then we trekked through the Khumbu Valley.
“That’s where we saw what money can do,” he said. “More or less, the hospital, the schools, all the houses are all rebuilt. It’s absolutely spectacular. We spent about 10 days trekking. It’s gorgeous, I love Nepal.
“Then the second part is the story of what’s happening in Kathmandu and especially in the area of Bhaktapur. In the historic city of Kathmandu residents are working hard amid the chaos, doing the big job of rebuilding the 300-year-old temples that came down in Bhaktapur.
“They’re doing it brick by brick and stone by stone,” Versteed described. “They allowed us to film there so you can see that.”
While there, Versteeg also teamed up with Rob Tournour’s organization, the wonderfully-named Another Brick in Nepal, to show the work his organization is doing to rebuild schools.
“He is something. We spent a week together. Because we had heard that outside of Khatmandu, it’s a completely different story, we went to several small villages. There, it’s literally as if the earthquake was yesterday. It’s shocking to see all these slabs of concrete and nothing is rebuilt. It’s a total disaster,” he said, adding that government assistance programs do not appear to be reaching these areas.
This year, when Versteeg was planning his trip to Nepal, he called the BC Institute of Technology because some of their people had been helping rebuild homes more effectively.
“I told them I wanted to do an interview with world-renowned earthquake expert Dr. Bishnu Pandey, because I heard he helped two years ago. They told me: ‘He’s still there.’ So, he showed us the demonstration sites they are setting up to teach the people there to build better houses. And we visited a rebuilt school. It’s painted to show where all the reinforcements are, to make people aware of how it’s done. It’s technical but it’s a fascinating story.”
The film also includes some pictures of the Nepal that Versteeg has grown to love during his two trips there. It is with financial and technical help from outsiders all over the world that they rebuild their houses, schools and medical centres, Versteeg discovers, reaching the conclusion that, “These villagers are the beating heart of Nepal. It is their infinite and inexhaustible resilience, which inspires the rest of the world.”
Admission to this presentation is by donation. For tickets contact the Cowichan Ticket Centre at 250-748-7529 or order online at cowichanpac.ca