Tue, 20 Aug, 2019

Earthquake Victims And Freezing Cold

By Ashmita Thapa

Picture Courtesy: Ashmita Thapa

Almost 9 months has flown by since the day that changed the entire landscape and lifestyle of Nepal. The Gorkha Earthquake that hit Nepal on 25th April, 2015 at 11:56 NST with a magnitude of 7.8 M with its epicenter at the east of the district of Lamjung was one of the worst natural disasters that the country had ever experienced in its recent history. Over 9,000 people were killed and over 23,000 people injured. The earthquake was so strong that it triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest killing at least 19 people.

Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless with nowhere to hide or run to as entire villages and communities were flattened across many districts of the country. Centuries old buildings and natural heritage sites were completely destroyed. The earthquake brought along such devastation and sorrow that thousands of people had to seek shelter at open spaces and build tents in order to protect their families. The DWIT news team paid a visit to one of such campsites in Pasang Lamhu Sadak, Chuchepati where more than 500 people have set up camps and live there permanently because they either lost their homes or they are too afraid to go back. Now, almost 9 months after the disaster, we asked one of the elders how the current situation of the place was. Here’s what he had to say.

Q) What Is your name? Where are you from?

“My name is Krishna Tamang. I am originally from Sindhupalchowk.”

Q) Is your family with you here?

“Yes. I live with my wife and my 12-year-old son.”

Q) How long has it been since you moved here?

“We heard about this place from a friend of mine almost a month after the earthquake. When we arrived here, the place was already very packed. We built a small tent near the edge for the time being and as a few people started going back to their homes, we expanded our tent gradually. “

Q) So it’s almost been 9 months since that horrible day, how are the people here getting along?

“The earlier months were certainly extremely tough. We had barely any clothes to wear, food to eat and water to drink. I couldn’t sleep for a month after because every time I closed my eyes, I felt the ground shaking and I got scared to death. We were very fortunate not to lose any member of our family. I know a lot of people here have not been as lucky as I am. People used to cry all the time and a lot of quarrels used to break out. There were concerns about hygiene issues because we didn’t have any toilets and people feared that an epidemic would soon spread. So everyone here has had to go through a lot of grief and sorrow to get to this day.”

Q) Where do the people get food and water from?

“In the earlier months, a lot of people starved due to a lack of supplies. But slowly, we started getting donations from different organizations and individuals. The Hyatt hotel provided us with food and we also got warm clothes for the winter from different organizations. We feel so fortunate to have such kind people looking out for us.”

Q) How long do you plan on staying here? What’s next? Has the government made any decisions?

“Well, to be honest with you, we haven’t heard anything concrete from the government. They always promise to build us temporary houses in our homeland but so far, nothing has been started yet. We don’t know for how long we are going to be stuck here. We don’t know for how long people are going to provide us with funds. No one is content with their current situation here but it doesn’t look like the situation is going to change anytime soon.”

Interview was conduction by joint contribution of Shibesh Duwadi and Ashmita Thapa.

DWIT News will be covering detailed analysis report on Earthquake Victims in following edition as well.