Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay's Elfarrow Apparel continues to help Nepal earthquake victims

As Nepal deals with the aftermath of yet another major earthquake, a Thunder Bay woman with a clothing factory in Kathmandu said help for survivors has shifted from feeding people to offering shelter.

Thunder Bay-owned business in Nepal making tents to shelter earthquake survivors

Earthquake survivors have been seeking shelter at the Elfarrow Apparel factory in Kathmandu, one of the few structures in its neighbourhood that withstood the first Nepal earthquake. (Salim Khan/gofundme)

As Nepal deals with the aftermath of yet another major earthquake Tuesday, a Thunder Bay woman with a clothing factory in Kathmandu said help for survivors has shifted from feeding people to offering shelter.

Tuesday's 7.3 magnitude tremor comes just two weeks after last month's quake which killed an estimated 8,000 people. 

​Thunder Bay's Kyley Blomquist established an open-air factory in Kathmandu last year for her clothing import business Elfarrow Apparel.

News of more earthquake damage and further loss of life on Tuesday is devastating for those involved in relief efforts, Blomquist said on CBC Radio's Superior Morning.

"They're very exhausted. That's the message I got this morning. It's just mental torture now."

$10,000 in donations

People in Thunder Bay have already donated more than $10,000 to the Elfarrow Apparel Earthquake Relief Fund since the first quake hit on April 25.

Thunder Bay's Kyley Blomquist opened an open-air factory in Kathmandu last year for her clothing import business, Elfarrow Apparel. Now the factory is providing emergency aid. (Jody Porter/CBC)

Factory workers initially used the money to buy cooking pots and a big water tank to set up a relief station at the factory and feed the 169 people who were taking refuge there.

As the aftershocks subsided, and people began returning home or finding shelter with others, factory workers began purchasing large quantities of food, such as rice and potatoes, and bringing packages to villages outside Katmandhu, she said.

"They were in desperate need of food," Blomquist said of the first village they visited. "We just got word from them yesterday. They need more rice and more oil if we can bring it."

In total, factory workers have brought food and medicine to seven villages, including four in the Nuwakot area, and they are planning one more "relief trek" to another village they've heard needs help, Blomquist said, adding the villages are populated by people of lower castes, reducing their likelihood of getting help from elsewhere.

Tents needed for shelter

Blomquist said the latest priority for the workers in her factory is to provide shelter for people left homeless by the quakes, especially since it's been raining heavily.

The market is sold out of tents, she said, but Elfarrow can make tents at its factory at a cost of about $30 each.

Elfarrow Apparel is collecting donations for Nepal's earthquake victims at the Thunder Bay store and online.

"The marketplace is full of Gore-Tex fabric," she said, "Because of Nepal being such a trekking tourist spot they have all that in the market there. So we can go out and buy rolls of Gore-Tex and stitch these up no problem."

Blomquist said she's been following the lead of her Nepal staff when in comes to how best to spend the donations Thunder Bay residents have made.

"I think trusting in the local people, their ideas of what actual people need — I just feel really good about that," she said. "They're helping each other. They know what they need most."


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