In the last month two large earthquakes and more than 100 aftershocks have devastated Nepal. Thousands of survivors are now without homes — and with the monsoon season around the corner — Oxfam’s top priority is to deliver shelter and emergency aid as soon as possible.
For many of the smaller, remote communities in Nepal, aid has been difficult to deliver. Entire villages in the hard-hit Gorkha district have been cut-off by landslides, making road access impossible. But thanks to the mountain guides and porters now assisting Oxfam, aid is making it’s way through.
On Sunday 17 May the first team of porters and mountain guides trekked for four hours from Barpak — the epicentre of the first earthquake — to reach the tiny village of Laprak. They were carrying tarpaulins and hygiene kits — the equivalent of almost 2.5 tonnes of aid.
Orla Murphy is leading the Oxfam Nepal earthquake response and said the people of Nepal need immediate relief and support for their long term recovery.
“With Nepal expected to receive 80% of its annual rainfall over the three-month monsoon period, the top priority for Oxfam is to make sure people have safe shelter. We have also distributed rice seeds to farmers who need to plant a new crop before the rains start. Two out of three people in Nepal rely on small scale farming for a living. If we don’t act quickly, they risk losing next year’s crop too…
“We need to keep providing immediate emergency relief to people, and at the same time start supporting them towards long term recovery; people need to be able to start rebuilding their lives”.
Read 9 stories of survival:
LEFT: Santumaya Tamang (40) with her daughter Mona* (11). When the earthquake struck Santumaya was at home, about to eat lunch with her teenage son. The house shook from side to side until it fell over, collapsing to one side. Both she and her son were trapped under the rubble. After struggling to free herself she freed her son and collapsed, exhausted: “I thought I would die.” Santumaya is planting soya bean seeds, given to her by relatives after their own store was buried with the house, and weeding her small maize field. “If I don’t work hard now there will be no food to eat.We lost almost everything.” RIGHT: A doorframe and stairway are all that is left standing amidst the rubble of Santumaya Tamang’s house .
LEFT: The building in which the Singh family lived stands in ruins. RIGHT: Maya Devi Singh stands beside her son Sunil. The family’s home was destroyed in the earthquake so they have taken shelter in the shopfront of the family’s grocery shop: “We sleep with the shutters open because we are afraid.” Maya and her son Sunil were at home when the ground began to shake. Sunil was watching TV in the front room. They ran down the stairs and out of the door as the home the family had lived in for generations collapsed around them: “The dust was so thick I couldn’t see, when I looked at my home there were already tears in my eyes.”
LEFT: Roshana Manandhar (20) lives with 70 other people in six buses in a field beside the school at which her mother is a teacher: “It’s like a nightmare. I never imagined anything likes this, not even in my dreams.” The family were vacationing in Pokhora, a popular destination for foreign tourists and Nepalis alike, when the earthquake struck: “We were lucky. If we’d been at home we’d probably have died.” RIGHT: The building in which Roshana Manandhar (20) and her family lived stands in ruins
LEFT: Torn pages of a reading book lying amongst the rubble are all that’s visibly left of Anu Shrestra’s (24) house in Sankhu, Nepal. The family’s four story house collapsed entirely. RIGHT: Anu Shrestra (24) lives with her mother, daughter, husband and 15 other people in a tarpaulin shelter in Sankhu, Nepal: “We are really struggling living here. I don’t feel safe going to the toilet at night and the children are scared when the wind blows against the tarpaulin. It’s cold and when it rains it’s awful. Sometimes, there’s nothing to eat.”
LEFT: The remains of the Thakari’s family house in Saithok, Sindhupalchowk. RIGHT: Krishna Bahadur Thakuri (52) and his wife Tika Kumari Thakari (51) have constructed a temporary shelter with salvaged materials near their damaged home. Tika says: “I still can’t imagine what the future will look like. I dream of our house filled with the family all living together again, but we have no money to rebuild and we’re getting old now. I feel the future looks bleak.”
LEFT: Shrijana Karki (26) has taken shelter with her two boys (*Sid 4/ *Arun 7) between two parked cars in a shed after their home was damaged in the earthquake. She fled their rented apartment with just two hundred rupees (about $2 US). Her husband who worked in a hotel has been left out of a job by the earthquake: “I don’t know what we’ll do. I haven’t slept properly in four nights. I’m too afraid to go home”. Homelessness and joblessness are a joint curse for many families previously renting accommodation in the city. RIGHT: Shrijana Karki (26) holds her youngest son *Sid (4) as she walks past damaged apartment buildings in Kathmandu
LEFT: A whiteboard hangs from a cracked wall at the Shree Krishna Ratna Ganga higher secondary school. 1200 students attend the school six days a week, except for Saturday. The earthquake struck on Saturday at midday. RIGHT: Ravi* 11 and his sister Pabritra* 10 live with their parents in a temporary shelter with hundreds of other people. Ravi: “I feel very sad seeing the school, before it was beautiful but now it looks bad. I would be in school today but we don’t know what will happen with our studying. I want to go back to school and when I leave, to go into the army”.
LEFT: Paper records and a broken computer lie amongst the rubble of the District Development Office in Chautara village in Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. The District Development Committee is responsible for coordinating the implementation of every development project, government or non-governmental, in the district. RIGHT: Maya Shrestra (47) works from a desk she salvaged in a tent opposite the destroyed DDC building where she has worked for 19 years: “I sit and look out at it everyday and my mind feels numb.”
LEFT: Family photographs hang on an interior wall of Krishna Man Shresthra’s home in Chautara, Sindhupalchowk. Krishna’s uncle’s wife died when the first earthquake struck. The following day all her relatives were attending her funeral when powerful aftershocks reduced the family’s home to a pile of bricks and rubble. “There were many aftershocks in the days after. It was terrible. When we returned home I was heart broken. I just cried. Not just me, many of us”. RIGHT: Krishna Man Shrestha (30) holds his daughter Krishnu inside the temporary shelter they share with five other families
Thanks to your generous support, Oxfam has reached over 150,000 people in seven of the worst hit districts of Nepal. Read more about Oxfam’s response in Nepal and donate today.
You can still deliver life-saving emergency aid in Nepal. Please make a donation today.
Photos: Aubrey Wade
*names changed to protect identity