Sixty-two-year old Dambar Kumal lost everything he owned when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015.
It had been a day like any other. Dambar was hard at work planting seeds in the fields of Gorkha District, the epicentre of the earthquake, when it struck. He hurried home to find his house flattened and his entire grain storage ruined by the country’s largest natural disaster in 80 years.
Almost 9,000 people were killed in the 2015 earthquake, nearly 22,000 were injured, and many more lost their homes and livelihoods.
As the second anniversary of the earthquake approaches Dambar and his family finally have a new house. They have been living in a temporary bamboo shelter, a cramped space without protection from the elements. After the earthquake struck, International Nepal Fellowship [INF], assessed the family’s needs and organised funding and the construction of their new earthquake safe home.
Rebuilding has been slow in many of the areas affected by the earthquake. Accessing adequate funds, sluggish government bureaucracy, and the geographical challenges of construction in such mountainous countryside provide ongoing hurdles.
“The majority of people are still living in old houses and temporary shelters since the earthquake,” says Bishnu Giri, the manager of INF’s post-earthquake rebuilding project.
Two years on, many still feel ongoing insecurity in their homes due to potential flooding or attacks from wild animals. Others have ongoing trauma from having lost loved ones or their homes.
Your generosity means INF can work in partnership with the people of Nepal, to help rebuild lives through practical construction programs and capacity building for future natural disasters. Thank you.
INF has now formally signed an ongoing agreement with the Nepali government to deliver wide-ranging reconstruction and training to communities affected by the earthquake with a particular focus on people with disabilities.
Across Gorkha District, where the earthquake flattened village after village, INF’s GRACE project is now well underway. GRACE stands for Gorkha Rehabilitation And Community Empowerment. Construction has begun on more than 100 houses for people with disabilities; five residential centres next to schools that are accessible to children with disability; and one public building in a remote village. Future works include modification to an additional 40 households and the reconstruction of three public toilets that are accessible for people with disability. The GRACE project also involves providing community based earthquake rehabilitation support to almost 1,500 people with disabilities.
“This part of the project aims to improve and increase access for people with disabilities to health services, education, work opportunities and meaningful social participation,” says Bishnu Giri.
CEO of INF’s Australian office, Phil Morris, recently visited Nepal. He was both encouraged by the progress, and struck by the enormity of the task ahead.
“I was privileged to travel to Gorkha recently with Bishnu and his team. I started feeling almost helpless as I was reminded how big the task of reconstruction still is”, reflected Phil.
“Driving into Gorkha you pass countless houses that were damaged in the quakes and which are still waiting to be rebuilt.
And yet when meeting individuals like Dambar who have received help, and seeing the compassion of Bishnu and his team, I knew that this was really important work, and that every house rebuilt meant security and hope for a family just like mine.”
Written by Alex Barwick, International Nepal Fellowship [INF] Australia. Alex lived in Nepal with her family for 12 months in 2014 and worked with INF. INF is a Christian mission serving Nepali people through health and development work.