Photo: Current lifestyle of people in Thuldanda All Photos By: Bijaya Kumar Shrestha
I was standing in front of the mirror and saying, “I have to rejoin the Gym”. Sabitri replied, “Bijaya…. Earthquake”. The conversation was not interrelated but the situation was related. As soon as she said earthquake, I asked her to sit down by the side of wall. I had thought that the earthquake would last for 30 – 40 seconds but it did not stop. Then we moved to stand below the door for about a minute. Still, did not stop. It was not safe to stay inside the room. I caught her arm and ran away to the open space. By the time we reached there, all the neighbors were out. No houses were broken down and all of us were safe. This unwanted and terrible situation took place on 25th of April at 11:56 am when Nepal was hit by 7.8 richter earthquake.
I had heard about such threatening earthquakes but had not experienced. I saw the fear of death in the eyes of people. We started making calls to our friends and relatives. One of the F.M. stations broadcasted that the epicenter was somewhere between the border of Gorkha and Lamjung. Also, the news of Bhimsen Sthamba – Dharahara being completely broken down reached our ears. We did not have courage to go inside the home. We spent the night in the ground under the tent. It was the house that protected us from sun, rain, wind and all. Now, the houses have become our enemy and ready to kill us. It was chasing us away. With time, life started being simple and people started coming back to the regular activities.
There is a small village called Thuldanda in Chauthe VDC of Nuwakot district. Before two weeks, I and some of the hikers of DWIT had been to this village and spent a night. I thought about that house, Kancha dai and his family, goats, buffaloes and all as Nuwakot is also one of the most affected districts. We had enjoyed with all of them and they were so pleased with us. Deerwalk Social Welfare Network decided to carry the survey on Earthquake impact of that area. I was one of the members of the survey team.[caption id="attachment_6465" align="aligncenter" width="992"] Conversing with the local[/caption]
On 2nd of May, six Deerwalkers moved to Nuwakot District for Earthquake Impact Assessment, early at 7:00 am on our bikes. Our first destination was Thuldanda, where I have a kind of emotional attachment. We reached Thuldanda at around 11:00 am and met with Kancha Dai and his family. With the blessing of God, none of his family members lost their life. However, their house was completely broken down and they lost five goats. We had taken some noodles and tent with us. They were very happy to receive those from us. After some time, we decided to walk around the village. We went to the villages of Chauthe and Okharpauwa VDC. We spent considerable time walking around the village and meeting with local people in Thuldanda, Bhandarthumka, Dhungana gaon, Siudeni. Almost all houses are completely broken down there. Those which are not demolished are not in a condition for safe stay. All the houses need to be reconstructed. Luckily, there were not many deaths and casualties. Most of the villagers were out in the field harvesting the wheat, during the earthquake.
Upon our conversation with the villagers, we knew that they have to spend at least 150 thousands to rebuild simple houses. The labor cost is too high and very hard to find. They are in miserable condition as far as shelter is concerned. Construction of temporary shed has become their first priority. They are asking for a tent to make temporary houses. Villagers are not happy with government. They are very angry with the politicians. They have not received any relief packages yet. They have lost hope of any help from government. At least 500 houses of Chauthe VDC (Ward 5 and 6) and Okharpauwa VDC (Ward 4) are in need of immediate relief. Food materials are not the immediate requirement for them. The food quantity they have will last at least for two to three weeks. They are not much concerned about the medicine. But we felt there could be sanitation issues in future. We advised them to keep some medicines of cold, fever, diarrhea for future purpose. At the moment, they want roof over their heads more than anything.
In the village three people have lost their lives. As we had small fund raised by Deerwalk Social Welfare Network (DWSWN), we decided to give small support to those families. As a token of good gesture, we gave NRs 10,000 to a family in Okharpauwa VDC, Dhungana Village. The family had lost grandmother aged 55 years and granddaughter aged 3 years. As, the grandmother was trying to take the granddaughter to the safe place, the house fell down, both of them were buried and lost their lives. Next family was from Lower Siundey of same Okharpauwa VDC. The family had lost their eldest son aged 23 years. He had just started working in Bank of Kathmandu as a driver. Their family had great hope with him. He died in Kathmandu, as he was buried by a broken wall. He has a 3 year old son and his wife has nothing to do further. We gave them NRs 10,000 as a support amount and left the place which had people with sad faces. The family was really glad to receive that small amount of help.
Our team came back to Kathmandu. We have advised them to form a local committee of the villagers and shared our cell number. They will communicate with us on regular basis and will send the relief packages to the village under their supervision. The committee is supposed to take the package from Kathmandu and distribute them among the villagers equally.
This is the story of small village of Okharpauwa where I had spent a night during my hike. There are many villages with similar stories and looking for roof over their heads, which in the current context, are the tents.