It was the longest 10 days of their lives. With more than 100 aftershocks rattling the ground after the initial M7.8 earthquake, trying to find some level of normalcy amongst all the chaos was too much to ask for. The rescue mission in Nepal has dwindled, as the government and the aid agencies faced the harsh reality and accepted that the chances of finding any more survivors are non-existent. The focus now is fully on providing relief to help those who have managed to stay alive. With hard hit communities still lacking food, water, medicine, and shelter – many local organization and community leaders have decided to take matter into their own hands.
House of our scholar Rama Poudel – reduced to rubble. She is one of 11 scholars and staff who suffered a complete damage to their homes
Rukmini Foundation and our partner school ASC are amongst those who decided to start their own relief effort to help Pharping and the surrounding villages. Although Rukmini’s core mission is not in disaster relief – it soon became apparent that in order to lower preventable deaths, people needed to have access to basic necessities, all of which Rukmini Foundation and ASC were able to provide.
After the earthquake, our staff went to visit Rukmini scholars, their families, and the surrounding communities to inspect the damages and the living conditions. Fortunately, the central area of Pharping did not sustain too much destruction as many houses were relatively modern and made from concrete, however the rural areas of Pharping were not so lucky. Hundreds of mud and stone houses have collapsed in the areas of Untiki, Kopugaon, Dollu, and Simpani; leaving many vulnerable with poor living conditions and susceptible to communicable diseases.
Health and Medical items including in water purification tablets, glucose, face masks, sanitary napkins, toothpaste..etc
The first relief response involved our staff identifying 12 families who had lost everything and providing them with immediate necessities such as tent, food, hygiene items, water, etc, that would sustain them for one month. The next step was the inspection of houses in the community and neighboring villages. The team categorized and labeled the houses having 1) minor cracks 2) major cracks, and c) completely destroyed. With this data, the team hopes to consult with engineers and work with other community leaders to come up with plans for reconstruction. RF is encouraging the staff and community of Pharping to consider building houses that are not only strong and durable, but also eco-friendly. Meanwhile, the staff are trying to organize a clean-up group to help with clearing off the rubble and debris from the collapsed houses.
Foundation Didis (Pramila and Sabina) teach Smriti’s mother how to purify water
For a small Himalayan nation that was already delved in grave poverty, this natural disaster will bring about endless challenges. This earthquake has left many families with physical, mental and emotional scars. For many survivors, the fear of another earthquake striking when they sleep is a nightmare that keeps them awake. However, the love and solidarity of their friends, neighbors, and community has inspired earthquake survivors to dream again for a new life. Communities like Pharping has come together to show tremendous amount of strength to help one another fight this tragedy in the hope to once again help its people sleep peacefully.
Additional Planned Action:
Clearing Damaged Houses
As many homes collapsed during this earthquake, we are planning to rally volunteers to help clean up the collapsed houses. We are also trying to coordinate inspections for all homes to ensure that they are safe to be lived in.
Monitoring the health of affected families
Affected families who are living in field under tent are very much vulnerable to disease. So, our team will continuously observe the health condition in the area. We can suggest them for health measures and also provide some health item support until they enter their resident safely.
Rebuilding homes and lives
Out of 46 homes for our scholars and staff, 50% suffered either structural or complete damage. Many of them are living in makeshift tent homes, and with the monsoon season coming soon, we are trying to find ways to get them safe shelter soon.
Our Regional Director Shashi Sharma is coordinating with Engineers to see what it would take to design and build new buildings for the affected families. We are supporting this effort and will come up with a design, plan, and estimated costs over the next few days.
Coordinate with other stakeholders:
Reconstruction is a big task, and we will work with all stakeholders that are operating in this area. We are coordinating efforts with local and national government as well as other aid agencies so that we can operate efficiently and effectively.