EXCLUSIVE: JOHAN LINDEBERG'S VISUAL DIARY OF NEPAL PT. 5
In the final 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.
“At a point I looked back and saw Dillon point upward towards the mountainside. He told me to keep an eye open for land slides. The thought of an actual landslide freaked me out. The rain was coming down hard and the whole experience automatically became real and it really hit me, that anything could happen. This realization came after being in Nepal for some time, surrounded by good hearted, brave people. I’d felt so comfortable and secure up to this moment. But I realize now that I was in a post-earth quake environment. This fact made me suddenly realize that I was far from my New York City bubble. It just came to me, and I’m glad it did. This trip has taught me many things, but most of all awareness, not only of my surroundings but also the things that surround other people.”
The village we decided to visit yesterday was Thampal Dhap on the Jugel mountain. It’s located in the Sndhupalchok district, where 3,900 people lost their lives. Normally you can drive to there but because of the earthquake, the only way to reach the village is by foot. We drove 4 hours from Kathmandu and reached an area where there had been serious landslides so we had to park the car and start to hike. Throughout the two hour hike it seemed like we were walking through a war zone. There was destruction amongst the land which contrasted against the most kind and beautiful people. People who live in the present; day by day. Then all of a sudden their world was destroyed. Everything just disappeared in an instant, the 25th of April at 11:55 a.m. Homes that have been built upon for generations. In a blink of an eye, everything changed. They spoke of how fortunate they were. That it was a Saturday and no children where in the school houses. That people were at the temple and not at their homes. They said. “Imagine if everyone has been at home? Imagine if it had happened in the early morning? Or even worse, at night when when we were all sleeping. We were so lucky it was a Saturday.”
The last 30 minutes was a steep uphill hike. We passed by people carrying vegetables and fruit. Our destination was the village of our driver Kiran, who lost 23 relatives in the earthquake. We are invited to his brother’s temporary shelter. Him and his wife offer us potatoes and Roxy, a local liquor made by them. Afterwards they showed us to a temple at the top of the mountain. It had been completely destroyed. This is were three hundred of the villagers where gathered at the time of the earthquake. How lucky they were to have been there and not at home. Just beyond where the temple once stood is the site of their new temporary school. Kiran is proud of it. He was the one who made it happen. He describes to us that through Facebook they reached out for help and for contributions to the relief. He succeeded to get 3 tons of food. He also met an organization from India who donated money, came here themselves, and helped to build the school that holds 330 children.
We need to stand up more than ever. It’s no doubt that social media has created a complete new awareness of the world. And it’s such an important tool for communicating the voice of the people. It’s so great that people are beginning to see the world as one and that we start to act also beyond hashtags.
On our way back it starts pouring rain. We need to start to hiking down the hill. It’s wet and foggy and Blue realizes she has forgotten her rain coat, so I give her mine. We walk on the slippery roads back through the destroyed villages. It’s such a relief to see the car in the horizon. We start to drive, but after only a 15 minute drive we get stuck. The river that we have to cross is too high. We have to wait for the river to get calm and subside. We sit in a shelter next to the river for 2-3 hours. The rain doesn’t stop. Kiran says we need to stay overnight but there is nowhere for us to sleep. One woman comes up to us after hearing we are stranded and offers us a place to sleep. Kiran walks with her there to see if it works. He comes shortly after and says that she’s living together with her goats and that it’s far too dirty. So we decide to sleep in the car. We are 5 people. I look at Blue, she is so brave and strong. Keeping the energy high. I start to feel worried about her. The land is cracked and there are landslides everywhere in the region but Kiran says we are in an spot that is safe with no cliffs around us that could create a landslide. I take the front seat, Blue will sleep in the back with Savitri (our guide) and Dillon. It’s intense throughout the night. The rain continues along with thunder and lighting. At this point I really start to question my decision to bring Blue with me on this trip and I can’t sleep. I feel the responsibility as a parent and start to think of so many things. What would happen if it doesn’t stop raining and we need to start walking back.? Luckily by morning the rain has stopped. By 5 in the morning villagers are helping us throw rocks in the river to divert the current. We can now finally cross. Now the next challenge began. Landslides have cut off the road on several parts. We have to remove big stones to be able to pass.
I’m not sure how to describe our experience in Nepal. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. It’s incredible how every house just collapsed. It’s been life changing. This is the most powerful 10 days I’ve experienced. I chose to be involved in this project and show my support to Nepal. The world is in such a turmoil right now and it’s no doubt that everyone has to contribute.
Photography by Johan Lindeberg
Donate here and help the victims of the earthquake