"One day I was just doing some work in the kitchen when all of the sudden the earthquake turned our house into a demolition site"
My name is Ashok Maharjan. I am from a middle class family and I live with my parents and my brother. Before the earthquake we were leading a happy and comfortable life. My father works as a mason and this career enabled him to pay for the basic necessities, as well as my monthly school tuition.
One day I was just doing some work in the kitchen when all of the sudden the earthquake turned our house into a demolition site. When my brother and I realised what was happening, we rushed outside. Once outside we saw houses collapsing one after another and all we could do is stand there helplessly. When the earthquake finally stopped, many people just broke down in tears and panicked. I thanked God that I found my parents and brother safe and sound. However, my pregnant sister lived in another village, and due to the network problems caused by the earthquake, it took quite some time to reach her. Luckily once we reached her we found her to be in good health.
Unfortunately, not everyone shared our luck. Our neighbours were buried under the rubble of what used to be their home. Other neighbours frantically searched the rubble, trying to dig out the wreckage as they shouted for help and tools. While they were digging, a ceiling of another building fell on top of the rubble, making it even harder to rescue my buried neighbours. Later that night we learned that our dear neighbours did not survive the earthquake, and they died a horrible death being buried alive.
That night my father made a tent for us to sleep in. We lost everything in the earthquake and we didn't even have food to eat that night. We slept in that tent for the next 15 days until the next quake shook us. During that earthquake, my mother broke her leg, and we were so stressed that we weren't able to pay the hospital bill. We ultimately survived on the aid provided by people who came to help our village. I'm so thankful for the help that was granted to us. At this moment life is still not comfortable, but at least we have shelter from the wind and the rain. I had lost all my school clothes and books, but luckily I was able to borrow a uniform from a friend who had already graduated. I am currently in grade 10 and doing my best in school. Although it's a bit uneasy at times having to share my bedroom/study room with my family members, I try to cope as best as I can.
Global Human Rights Defence
VDF is begonnen met de middelen die zij hebben hulp te bieden aan de slachtoffers. Recentelijk hebben wij een update van ze ontvangen:
"We started distributing relief materials in Ramechhap. In our first trip we distributed materials to the 20 most poor families of the VDC. There are more than 1100 families living in the VDC out of which 1047 families are the victims of the earthquakes. Though we could distribute relief materials only to few (20 out of 1047 ) families, they were very happy. There would have been much more problems to select families to distribute materials to but the villagers them selves selected the families so with the help of local persons, VDC and the police station distributed materials very easily. They were happy as they got the materials of good quality."
Global Human Rights Defence
My name is Durga Pokharel. I live in one of the villages in the Ramechhap district in Nepal. My husband and I have 4 daughters and 2 sons. We come from an economically poor class. My husband is disabled. He was born with a dysfunctional hand and now works on a daily salary basis in an office. Besides that, we have a very small piece of land where we do buffalo farming, which brings in some extra income. It isn't much, but we manage to satisfy our basic needs. As a family, we were a happy one.
But on April 25th a great disaster stormed into our life. It was Saturday, we were all at home. By God's grace we were outside, all except for one of my daughters. She was having her lunch inside. I was feeding the buffalos, and my husband was in the garden. Suddenly we heard a strange sound. Everyone started shaking. Soon after the sound I saw mountains shaking, people crying 'Earthquake, Earthquake'. It was only then that I realized that what we were experiencing was an earthquake. I could not stand properly. I remembered that my daughter was inside the house. I cried out her name, I screamed: run out of the house, run out now. Then I saw our house starting to collapse. I tried rushing inside to save my daughter, but my husband stopped me. The stones from which the walls were build were falling out. With the fear I thought about my daughter…and started praying to God and gathering the courage to go inside. When the earthquake stopped, I found my daughter laying on the floor. Scared about what was going on. she had fainted. It was a God's blessing that she was safe. I took her out and sprayed water on her face. She woke up. We only had a minute to rejoice for her survival before the ground started shaking again. Everyone around us was crying while running towards the fields. Stones were falling from the mountains. We thought that was going to be the end of our lives...
People were saying that they had never seen such an earthquake in their lives. Then it started again. Most of my house collapsed. While my family survived the disaster, all the food that we stored inside was gone. We slept outside for the whole night. We thought it was all over, but the next day the earthquake happened again… From that day on, we live outside. In 15 days, on May 12, another earthquake struck, with even more power. The extent of our fear is difficult to describe.
We have been living outside from April 25, and while the earthquakes have stopped, we have no money to build another house. The government has given us Rs. 15000 ( € 125) to buy steel plates for the roof, but this isn't enough. We have lost much more in the earthquake. The aftershocks continue to this day. We don't know what will happen tomorrow. Our situation is not unique: most of the villagers have it similar. We have all lost our houses and other things. We live under constant pressure. All we can ask is the support of the government and people out there who are not indifferent.
Global Human Rights Defence
[Hoe was het om de aardbevingen en alle destructie mee te maken? Onze lokale partner OSED sprak met een van de slachtoffers. Lees hieronder zijn verhaal.]
"On April 25th, just when the earthquake started I was working on the ground floor of my home, making door and window frames for my neighbour's newly-built house. Four of my daughters, my son and son-in-law, as well as my three grandchildren, had gone to the field, while one of my daughters was playing on the third floor with her 1.5-year old son. Suddenly we heard a strange sound that shook the ground. I was shocked and started to shout loudly. I froze for some time, just standing there, holding a part of my house with my hands. Everyone was afraid, crying, shouting and running here and there to save the life of their kids. After 15 seconds the houses collapsed in front of my eyes. The surroundings were full of dust and misery. All of a sudden, I remembered my children, who were playing on third floor prior to the earthquake. I thought I lost all three of them that day. I tried to push the door to the room they were playing in open, but it was blocked by the bricks that had fallen down."
He took a long breath and said, "I cleared the bricks, one by one. As I nearly finished removing the bricks from another door nearby, I heard my daughter's voice. She was asking me if it was safe to come down. Just as I heard her voice, the ground underneath my feet was shaking slowly. With a sigh of relief, I told them to come down and go to a safe open area with me. Three of them were full of dust, as if they were made from soil itself. I thank God every day for having saved their lives."
When things settled down a little, Mr. Dangol finally noticed how badly his house was damaged. Apart from the floors supported by cracked pillars, everything was in ruin. "It isn't easy to live a 'normal' life when food and clothes are scarce. It is even harder to live without a roof over your head. Forced to live outside, we spent nearly two weeks in the fields under tarpaulin." Mr. Dangol said with sadness in his eyes. Within 11 days of living in the field, he built temporary shelter using old tins, in which they moved 14 days after the earthquake.
No one has been to the top floor of his ruined house since the earthquake. The risk is too high. Mr. Dangol has been waiting for some governmental support to destroy the house he used to call home, or rather what was left of it, but to no avail. After 1.5 months of restless waiting, he started the work himself with the support of his family and friends. "My heart skipped a beat every time I worked on the house. I have no experience in such work, and the fear of the floors falling on me kept me restless. The house kept shaking as it did during the earthquake. But we viewed the work as an adventure, and had a great feeling of accomplishment," said his 21 years old daughter, Susan Dangol. Due to the rainy season the destruction work is currently paused, and will continue after the monsoon season.
With a bitter sadness in his voice, Mr. Dangol said, "We have survived a horrific tragedy. In minutes we became homeless. For the last 60 years I had worked to make sure my children have the basics they need. Now we have lost everything. I cannot continue my work. My village is ruined, filled with the ghosts of the beauty that existed."
Although Mr. Dangol is 66 years old, he continues working as he did 10 years ago. He hopes to be able to rebuild his house through hard work and determination. The government currently takes no active part in assistance, yet he expects them to help in cleaning up and rebuilding the village.