Monday, June 1, 2015

A month after a devastating magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015, Habitat for Humanity Nepal, on 26th May 2015, went to Kavre to continue its Disaster Relief (DR) activity of distributing Transitional Shelter Kits to the affected people of PipalTaar, Ward No. 4 of the Paanchkhaal Municipality. This site was were HFH – Nepal had conducted its Scout Build on August 2013.

Our partner organization, Gramin Mahila Bikash Bahu-Udeshiya Sahakari Sanstha, helped us identify the affected community in coordination with the District Disaster Relief Committee (DDRC), the District Development Committee (DDC) and the local municipality. Gramin identified 93 houses to who we distributed the Transitional shelter materials, which contained materials that can be re-used in the construction of permanent houses, and made 5 demonstration houses.

We also came across some visually – impaired people who, although were affected by the earthquake, hadn’t received any kind of relief till now. 28 of them received CGI sheets, in coordination with Blind Youth Association, Sukedhara, so that they could make a Transitional Shelter with help from their family and friends.

We had a 100% community engagement, as can be seen in the pictures below. The community leader, Simraj, made a highly commendable coordination, which is why the materials were very well received, by the community, too.

Habitat for Humanity plans to begin building the first 100 permanent houses in Kavre in June. The aim is to rebuild thousands of homes across Nepal, depending on the funding secured. The following are stories of earthquake survivors who received the temporary shelter kits from Habitat. They were interviewed in PipalTaar on May 27, 2015. All photos by HFH Nepal/Sameer Bhattarai.

Indra Bahadur Danuwar

Having survived the earthquake, Indra Bahadur Danuwar has decided to rebuild his house after the monsoon season is over.
When farmer Indra Bahadur Danuwar and his family of 8 felt the tremors from the April 25 earthquake, their immediate reaction was to hold each other’s hands. They were then harvesting tomatoes in the field outside their house. After the tremors stopped, Indra, 51, and his family members ran to the center of the village to help people trapped under the rubble.

Due to major cracks on the walls of his house, Indra said  he and his family had to stay out in the open for a week after the earthquake. Finally, Indra was able to walk to a village nearby where he bought a tarpaulin which provided shelter for his family.

With many aftershocks, Indra feels that people are scared and unable to resume with a normal life. He admits that he is also affected. “My heart still beats very fast when I have to enter the house to retrieve things as I feel very unsafe inside it,” said Indra.

However, he wants to move on. He plans to rebuild  a one-storey house with sun-dried bricks after the monsoon season as multi-storey houses are risky in his view. He said, “The demonstration shelters that Habitat built look very sturdy; they will protect us from storms and heavy rain. I have received the temporary shelter kit and I will build the shelter myself.”

Sanila Danuwar

(From left) Sanila Danuwar, her daughter and her husband, along with her cousins, outside the temporary shelter that Habitat set up. Sanila is thankful that her family will be protected from heavy rain.
Sanila Danuwar, a 27-year-old farmer, was working in the field when the earthquake struck on April 25, 2015. She did not realize what had happened until she heard shouts around her. She looked up to see  several houses collapsing, including her neighbor’s house. Her first thought was of  three-year-old daughter who was in the house with Sanila’s parents. After running up the hill, Sanila found that her house was partially  damaged but her daughter and parents were fine. Her parents had held on to her daughter and stayed close to the door. 

Sanila and her family of five then went to an open space and shared a tent with another eight relatives. Sanila and her family could not continue living in their house as they were afraid that their neighbor’s house would collapse on their house.

On May 27, when Habitat for Humanity distributed temporary shelter kits to families in PipalTaar, Sanila was very much involved in setting up her own temporary shelter. She said: “I am very happy that Habitat is helping my community by distributing temporary shelter kits and giving us a demonstration. The shelter that the volunteers have built will protect me and my family members from heavy rainfall.”

Pabitra Danuwar

Heavily pregnant Pabitra Danuwar (left) feels the loss of shelter most keenly as her house
(right) is not safe to live in.

Pabitra Danuwar, 26, was 8 months pregnant when the first earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. She was buying groceries in a village near the PipalTaar community where she lived when she felt the ground move. She lost her balance and fell down on the street. After about 15 minutes, her sisters came looking for her and took her to a place where she could sit down and rest. She suffered a lot of pain for a few days after the earthquake when the aftershocks were frequent. Despite the pain, she walked from her house to the nearest hospital, an hour away, to seek medical attention.

At present, she is staying in a tent together with 14 members of her extended family. Pabitra and her family do not feel safe living inside their house which has several cracks on its walls. “Losing my house has been the hardest thing to bear since the earthquake hit. The tent that we are staying in will not be able to protect us from heavy storms,” said Pabitra.

According to Pabitra, people in the community are afraid of being attacked by wild animals, even tigers, when they are staying out in the open.  She is very uncertain as to what the future holds for her and her yet-to-be born child. She hopes the aftershocks will stop soon and she can have a safe delivery of a healthy child.


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