Nepal: Hope is a Beautiful Thing
24 January 2018
Earthquakes are such a destructive force! When two earthquakes struck Nepal in short succession, hardly a house was left standing in some parts of the country. So many people lost loved ones, as well as their homes. While still mourning, they had to brace for new disasters because of the rainy season. How would they keep their children dry and safe in the coming storms with nothing but thin plastic sheets overhead?
Within 48 hours of the first earthquake, Medair's emergency response team began distributing shelter packages to more than 10,000 families. Three years later, and Medair is still here, supporting thousands of Nepali through shelter projects.
At high altitudes, many survivors are still living in nearly destroyed huts in remote areas. During the rainy season and in winter, many older people and children get ill in these huts.
Why do people still not have a new house years after the earthquake? The scale of the disaster is huge! The government has needed time to organise, and people in the remote areas are often very poor and do not have the means to rebuild without help. The mountainous landscape and very limited infrastructure have not made the reconstruction process easy.
Yet a remarkable recovery project is underway in remote Bijulikot, Nepal. Thousands of people are working together to recover from the devastating earthquakes. 1,263 homes are on-track for construction.
What makes this special is that Medair and our local partner CDS have encouraged communities to work together in clusters of seven to 12 households. The cluster system is based on Armah Parma – the Nepali culture of labour exchange to help others finish similar tasks. Commonly used for farming, Medair has adapted it for reconstruction with impressive results.
Everyone chips in to help with something, regardless of age or disability. A spirit of optimism has taken hold as communities bond together and homes are springing up.
Kul Bahadur Magar, blind since birth, smiles as he talks about his role in the reconstruction. “I work more slowly than other masons and I find that difficult sometimes. But I’m good at mixing the mud and I can sense a lot. I help with the excavation work for the foundation and I carry water. I’m earning money and also building safe houses. I’m so happy with the clusters – we support each other. Without Medair and CDS, I would not have been able to build a new house.”
Medair and CDS provide the cluster members with training, technical assistance, and grant disbursements. We have trained more than 400 masons to work with the clusters to build earthquake-resilient homes.
“I had met several people who didn’t have any hope of rebuilding their houses again after the devastating earthquakes,” said Sumit Thapa, Medair relief worker. “But as our project progressed, people were enlightened with hope. They saw the results and began to have glimpses of the happiness that they could achieve. It builds confidence in them. Hope is a beautiful thing.”
Many Nepali people are still in need of help. Although there is grave risk of a new earthquake, the crisis has been all but forgotten. Medair wants to provide more of Nepal’s vulnerable families with a safe home. Your gifts today will help make that happen. Please sign up for monthly giving today.
In spring of 2015, two earthquakes in Nepal killed 9,000 people and left 21,000 injured. Over 600,000 homes were declared uninhabitable.
Medair’s work in Nepal is made possible with support from Swiss Solidarity, Woord en Daad (NL), and generous private donors.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.