B.C. filmmaker examines reconstruction efforts in Nepal

Cowichan, B.C., filmmaker Nick Versteeg is set to screen Nepal's Heartbeat Sept. 19, a chronicle of reconstruction efforts in the country after a devastating earthquake.

Nick Versteeg promised Nepalese people he would return after massive 2015 earthquake

Making good on a promise he made in 2015, B.C. filmmaker Nick Versteeg returned to the country after a massive earthquake to chronicle reconstruction efforts. (Nick Versteeg)

The heartbeat of a nation can be found in the resilience of its people, says Cowichan, B.C., documentary filmmaker Nick Versteeg.

Since a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 8,000 people in Nepal in 2015, millions of dollars have been donated from around the world to help with reconstruction efforts in the country.

How those donations are being used is the focus of Versteeg's new film, Nepal's Heartbeat, which is set for a free screening at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in Cowichan, B.C., Sept 19.

"What happened with the money?" asked Versteeg, speaking during CBC's All Points West. 

"That's what is was for me. We always donate stuff for things and we never really see what happens with the money."

The film follows Versteeg and his guide Bibi, as they document the rebuilding of temples and structures in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu and other regions such as the Khumbu Valley. 

Versteeg says the Khumbu Valley in the foothills of Mount Everest is home to many Himalayan villages that struggle to bring building supplies to ruined areas due to difficult terrain. (Nick Versteeg)

This isn't Versteeg's first trip to Nepal.

Prior to his 2017 visit to shoot Nepal's Heartbeat, Versteeg was in the country producing two unrelated documentaries in 2015 when the large earthquake hit.

"We just barely escaped with our lives," said Versteeg. "We promised the people there we would come back within two years."

Versteeg turned footage from the disaster into his film Five weeks in Nepal, which is a prequel to Nepal's Heartbeat.

The first film also screened at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre as part of a fundraiser for relief efforts after the disaster. The funds went directly to people Versteeg knew in Nepal.

​While work continues in Kathmandu, Versteeg said it will be years before reconstruction is complete there because promised funds have not been delivered.

With files from All Points West