KATHMANDU – Britain’s Prince Harry on Sunday visited with families living at a camp in Nepal for people made homeless by last April’s devastating earthquake as he continued a trip that many hope will draw attention to Nepal’s struggle to recover from the disaster.
Harry talked to families living in the camp at Bhaktapur, just east of the capital, Kathmandu, inquiring about the living conditions. He also spent part of the second day of his five-day official visit to the Himalayan nation at palace and temple areas damaged in the quake.
About 60 families have been living in tents at the Bhaktapur camp for nearly a year and remain uncertain about when they’ll receive government assistance to rebuild their houses.
It’s just one of the camps scattered around Nepal where people have been forced to live since the earthquake struck, killing nearly 9,000 people and destroying about 1 million homes.
Authorities have been slow to push ahead with quake rebuilding efforts. A government reconstruction agency was finally appointed in December, but has yet to provide promised aid money to displaced families and guidelines to build new houses and structures.
Purushottam Suwal, 14, who guided Harry around the camp, said the prince asked about the living conditions and the traditions of the families.
Earlier on Sunday, Harry traveled to Patan, south of Kathmandu, visiting the city’s old palace and Golden Temple areas, which suffered major damage in the earthquake
“Now that a big international figure has come here, we hope it will internationalize our plight and hope we will get some help to reconstruct the damaged structures in the near future,” said Bikash Ratna Dhakhwa, chief of the committee that takes care of the Golden Temple.
While the temple itself was mostly spared by the earthquake, the adjoining monastery, prayer house and assembly halls were all damaged. It’s estimated that the repairs will cost 25 million rupees ($227,000), but so far only a fraction of that has been collected from private donors.
Hundreds of people gathered and cheered in the areas where Harry visited on Sunday.
“I had never imagined that he would come,” said Sambridhi Rayamaji, a college student. “I am feeling really lucky, I am feeling really happy.”
On Saturday, Harry met with Nepal’s prime minister and attended a ceremony to mark 200 years of relations between Britain and Nepal.
During his trip, the prince also plans to visit a forest conservation area and meet several retired Gurkha soldiers and their families. The prince served with a Gurkha battalion during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.