Aftershock/Oil Shock: Embargo in Post Earthquake Nepal

By Seraphina Mallon-Breiman 

This past Thursday evening, professor Kevin Bubriski gave a presentation in the East Room on his experiences in Nepal between June and November of 2015. Kevin began by showing a two minute video clip of driving through Nepal and passing the south side of Kathmandu, showcasing a two-mile line of motorcycles, all waiting for fuel. Kevin spent a few years in Nepal when he was twenty years old serving through the Peace Corps- this is where he fell in love with the country and has since returned many times and is now famous for his photographic journalism all throughout the country.  

None of the 4.1 billion dollars that was pledged to help the Nepali embargo have actually been released. After the earthquake, a vast amount of infrastructure was destroyed. Acres of destroyed, abandoned buildings were scattered everywhere, treasures lost amid museums and important historic cites, etc.

As a photographer, Kevin found himself most intrigued by the individual stories of demolition workers and sites he found throughout his journey. Therefore, he continued observing and photographing the crews assigned to repair said buildings and infrastructure which had been overwhelmed. Amidst the demolition, no big technology was being used for reconstruction- just manpower, the use of hammers and nails etc. Kevin displayed the photographs of these people in the East Room, showcasing some workers who were restoring buildings with their bare hands and wearing flip-flops on their feet. These Nepali people built wooden and tin shelters to keep themselves warm and dry through the monsoon season.

During Kevin’s time there, he claimed there had been non-stop earthquake aftershocks. Nepali people everywehere were constantly checking into the available locations for shock-wave centers. The death toll overall came to roughly nine or ten thousand people. Kevin mentioned that had the earthquake happened during the school session, it was said that millions more people would have been killed due to the amount of students centered together in specific areas.

In remote village areas, people had lost everything. Extremely dangerous structures are still slanting and mid-collapse all over the country. People are uncertain as to whether or not to stay in their buildings or find shelter elsewhere. Kevin explained, “The best thing you can do for Nepal right now is to go there and spend some money.”

When asked about his thoughts on the decline of tourism due to the Earthquake’s damage, Kevin reiterated that there is little to no heat, energy, or fuel currently accessible there so they’ve been trying to airlift jet fuel and other energy sources, not even for tourism but for emergencies.

I will be leaving, along with sixteen other students and two GMC professors/administrators to study abroad in Nepal, leaving December 26th for an anthropological trek. I’m so excited for the experiences in my future and look forward to the stories I will be able to bring back and write about.  

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