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1/7 — Hira Maya age 76



Exclusive: Johan Lindeberg's Visual Diary of Nepal Pt. 4

In the fourth part of this Milk Made exclusive, legendary creative director Johan Lindeberg documents a visual diary of his journey to Nepal with his daughter Blue. The South Asian country was hit by a deadly earthquake in April of this year and has had difficulty recovering from the tumultuous impact since.

This was the most powerful day of our trip to Nepal. We began with a two hour drive from Kathmandu then proceeded to hike down a steep mountain trail, reaching the village of Bhotechaur an hour later. When you get to these remote villages you understand the logistical challenges of maintaining necessities. It’s only accessible by either helicopter or hiking–you just can’t drive there.

When we stepped into the village a girl with dark marks around her eyes came up to us. Our interpreter explained that Renuka Tamang, age 12, was electrocuted by a falling wire during the earthquake. And it’s no doubt that those eyes will always stay with me. But it was amazing to see that she was full of energy and played with the other kids. We also met Hira Maya, age 76, a tough woman with so much soul and character. She, like everyone else, seemed to somehow surrender and accept the fate that their houses were gone and that it’s going to take years to rebuild their villages. And I continue to think within myself, ‘Where do they get this core strength from?’ I felt that throughout their perils they still maintained pride and self worth. They don’t show bitterness or jealously at all.

On our way back we stopped at the Chuchepati Camp, one of the biggest earthquake relief camps of Kathmandu, sheltering 1020 families. We walked around talking to people for hours. The kids gathered around Blue. They wanted to know her age and where she lived. They showed her their temporary school room and their doctor’s station. Many of the tents looked beautiful inside with a colorful aesthetic. With the small means they had, they were able to create a mirroring effect of their lost homes in their tents.

A lot of people were lining up to get rice that was coming from the supermarket across the street which is financed by donations. But all of the sudden people started to scream. They realized that the rice had gone bad. They show us the rice in their hands and it’s broken and riddled with insects. Within minutes they decide to revolt against the supermarket who took the donations and gave them their dirty rice. One after the other, they grab their bags of rice and asked us to walk with them as we crossed the street. They began to throw the rice back at the supermarket. The police intervened, and it was a chaotic scene we experienced. There was a moment of huge disappointment rather than anger, but it was short lived, they all soon started to smile again.

After talking to all the people I met, I really started to understand. The earthquake has brought people together from different economic backgrounds and territories. Villages that didn’t talk before found community amongst each other. The wealthy welcomed the lower class into their homes. Overall, the earthquake brought people together beyond cultural and economic borders, bringing a new powerful stamina to rebuild this beautiful country.

Photography by Johan Lindeberg

Be sure to check out part one, part two, and part three of the visual diary

Donate here and help the victims of the earthquake

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