There is a great Irish proverb, which reads:
It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.
This is a beautiful sentiment, and indeed the survivors of the massive earthquakes in Nepal have relied on the kindness of neighbors and strangers to make it through day after challenging day. However, this emotional shelter is no replacement for the physical shelter that is also needed as hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed and families are risking their health by sleeping outdoors in the elements with limited protection.
Scholar Sunita (right) and her mother (next to her) speaking with Foundation mentor Pramila about their living situation
Pictured above is a field in Pharping where many families created makeshift shelters out of tarp and cloth.
Damage like this house of Rukmini Scholar, Rama can be found in almost every part of Nepal.
The scale of the destruction and widespread damage overwhelmed the Nepalese Government. Not equipped to tackle a disaster of this scope on their own Nepal has received assistance from foreign governments as well as local and international NGOs, the private sector, and other stakeholders.
Pharping (where our Nepal operations are based) did not suffer mass casualties like other parts of Nepal, but it was not spared in terms of damage to homes and buildings
Despite not being as hard-hit as other parts of the country, the area where Rukmini Foundation operates, Pharping also suffered significant damage in terms of homes destroyed. More than 20 homes of scholars and local staff suffered either structural or total damage. We were able to respond quickly thanks to our partner organizations on the ground and local leaders that mobilized a response team immediately.
After assessing the level of damage incurred in Pharping, Rukmini Foundation created a plan to target shelter, health, and resource issues. The Foundation set up a central relief distribution center to give out essential supplies and foods. Our team strategically conducted mobile health camps in areas where a large number of people lived under tents. The staff visited different tents and distributed medicines. Our Foundation not only focused on physical wellness but also prioritized mental and emotional wellness – topics that often go unaddressed after such traumatic disasters. Rukmini Foundation collaborated with government units, Red Cross Society, local NGOs, and youth clubs to host trauma relief events and wellness programs in multiple villages.
Sturdy temporary shelters are critical with the monsoon season on its way
One of our most significant post earthquake response has been the implementation of our Temporary Shed Management plan for earthquake survivors. The early arrival of monsoon season made temporary sheds a necessity. The Foundation prioritized assisting Rukmini Scholars and families who faced the most destruction and lacked financial capability in the creation of temporary sheds. We distributed CGI tin sheets for shelter to 20 families. Using these sheets and the wood and bamboo that the families collected, they were able to build one or two-room shelters. CGI Sheet sheds are sturdier than makeshift tarp shelters and will provide families with more protection from monsoon rains, spread of diseases, and wild animals.
Rukmini Foundation supported the 20 most at-risk families residing in 12 different villages in the Pharping region with temporary shed materials. The families then built their temporary sheds
Families used the CGI tin sheets we provided to build sturdier temporary sheds. While this may not look luxurious, these shelters provide stronger ceilings and protective walls that can withstand monsoon rains better than the tarp tents families were forced to use.
Rebuilding an Environment for Rukmini Scholars & Survivors
Rukmini Scholars and their families expressed their gratitude for receiving support to create better shelters right away. Each scholar has a unique background story and family experiences with their own specific needs, but providing reliable shelter for all of our scholars has been our top priority.
Foundation mentors Rojin (left) and Sabina (front) help scholar Junu’s mother carry the materials back
Rukmini Scholars, Nirupa Poudel and Anjana Poudel, both lost their homes during the first earthquake. Anjana’s home completely collapsed and left her slightly injured as she jumped out of the window to heroically save herself. When we visited Anjana and Nirupa’s families after the quakes, we saw that they were both living under small tents that could not last under harsh weather or survive attacks of wild animals, which is a real danger as some of them live very close to the forest. We provided both of their families with CGI tin sheets for shelter protection along with advice on building a sturdy shelter. The families took care of the rest for themselves.
Anjana’s fahter standing in front of their newly built temporary shelter using CGI sheets. He said seeing Rukmini Foundation’s support has made him believe people are really helping Nepal.
Anjana’s father said that seeing the help our foundation has provided through relief goods, health services at their doorstep, and shelter materials, has made him believe that some organizations are really there to help Nepalese people. He is proud to be a father of a Rukmini Scholar. His heartfelt thank you was a reminder of why we tirelessly work to support girls and families in the Pharping region.
Nirupa‘s mother cried when we visited their temporary home. She was happy to have a safe place to sleep, but most of all she was very happy that we managed to create a space for her daughters to do their homework in. Creating an environment for her girls’ studies and successes is extremely important to her.
Smriti Balami is a Rukmini Scholar raised by a single mother who works hard to ensure her daughter receives a quality education. Their home was completely destroyed so they made a small temporary shelter in front of the destruction. Smriti and her mom are very happy and grateful to receive support from the foundation.
Rukmini Scholar Smriti’s temporary shelter constructed with tarp, bamboo sticks, and cloths. We provided her family with sturdier CGI sheets.
While we prioritize Rukmini Scholars and their families, and our staff members, our efforts in Pharping villages are not limited to these individuals. When we visited staff member Asmita’s family, we found her and her neighbor Jay Bahadur Tamang’s homes completely collapsed and in very poor condition. We assisted both families in reporting the damages they faced to a community Ward Office and provided six other families in Dollu village with CGI sheets for temporary sheds. Government support has only begun to reach these villages.
Recently, the Nepal Government provided 15,000 Nepal Rupees (NRS), equivalent to $150, for families who only have one home made out of mud, stone or brick. Many families in rural villages received this compensation. The government also plans to provide 185,000 NRS ($1,820) for families who will completely rebuild their home. On the other hand, families who only do maintenance work on their existing homes will only receive 10,000 NRS ($100) for support.
Local government units have received much backlash and controversy over the selection of families who do and do not receive monetary support. Government reparation is only arriving now, two months after Nepalese families suffered major damages. This support is largely unsupervised and families’ use of money is unregulated. Many families do not know how to effectively spend their government support money. We found that village families have used the money for purposes other than managing their temporary sheds. Families are spending government money but there is no guarantee that they spent it on tasks that would give them long-term benefits.
Our sincerest thank you to Program Officer, Niroj Shrestha for providing us with this update and our team and staff in Nepal for their diligent efforts.
Post by Harinee
Intern, Rukmini Foundation
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- Using Technology to Unlock New Academic Potential - July 8, 2015
- It is in the shelter of each other that we live - June 26, 2015