Hope for the future in Nepal

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Hope for the future in Nepal

Almost ten months ago on April 25 2015, Nepal was rocked by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

Just a few weeks later, Nepal experienced another devastating earthquake. Then in mid-September the unofficial blockade along the border between Nepal and India began, which has been described as more damaging to the country than the earthquakes.

The effects of the disaster combined with the ongoing fuel crisis, civil unrest and other critical factors have led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the nation.

An acute shortage of fuel, cooking gas, medicines and other essential supplies has crippled the lives of many Nepali people. According to a report by Nepal’s central bank, the blockade has caused inflation to rise to 11.6 percent, the highest in 40 months. With the crisis worsening due to continual protests along the border, the supply of electricity has become increasingly erratic. Among the hardest hit are the poorest people and earthquake survivors who are living in temporary shelter and are also enduring their first winter since the earthquake.

Despite these challenges, Habitat for Humanity Australia sent volunteer teams to Nepal in October and last month to assist with earthquake recovery activities. Teams worked with the local community to remove rubble and help clear roads, and most recently, built toilets for earthquake affected families, including Narayan.

volunteer-nepal

Narayan lives with his wife, three sons and elderly parents in Kavre, one of the hardest hit districts.

All of the family members except for Narayan’s 11 year old son were working in the fields when the earthquake hit. “At first it was just slightly shaking,” said Narayan. “But then everything started to move. I looked up and saw homes start to crumble.”

Narayan watched helplessly as his and his neighbour’s homes collapsed one by one into piles of rubble and debris. Dust filled the air. It became pitch black and eerily quiet.

After the earthquake the family immediately saw changes in their own behaviour and that of their community’s. “Everyone was scared and would refuse to go back into the fields because they thought that they might die,” said Narayan.

He adds that their family felt embarrassed that their home hadn’t withstood the earthquake. This was a common sentiment shared by many whose homes were destroyed.

The trauma of the earthquake will not be forgotten anytime soon. Families live in fear of another earthquake and the events of the day are something many are struggling to process.

“It is very hard to think about those memories,” said Narayan. “And I don’t like to think about it. We are just so grateful that everyone in this village was safe.”

Narayan and his family were very grateful to receive transitional shelter kit in the aftermath of the earthquake, but having lost all their possessions they have struggled to keep warm this winter.

Thankfully, Narayan will be one of the beneficiaries of a new Habitat-built home to be completed this year. Volunteers who traveled to Nepal in January worked side by side Narayan and his family to build the toilets for their new home, as well as others in the community.

Welcoming volunteers into their community to assist with the recovery efforts, Narayan says has had a positive effect on the village.

“Although we still find it hard to think about what has happened and how our lives have changed and the challenges we see volunteers and we feel happy,” he says. “There is hope that soon our lives will be changed for the better and back to the way it was before the earthquake. We now have hope and we can begin to smile again, we know that now it will be easier.”

“We are so happy that we can work hand in hand with the volunteers, we are so happy to have you all here and very pleased with the work you have done. It has been so quick and looks very nice. I think that we also make you happy because we are smiling even though we face many challenges.”

Habitat is privileged to support those who need to rebuild their lives after the devastation of the earthquakes.

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