Hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal continue to live in temporary shelters made of tarps and salvaged materials, more than a year after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the country.
In the early days after the quake, MCC worked with local partners to meet urgent needs – assisting with shelters, providing food and cooking utensils. As winter approached, efforts shifted towards supplying warm clothing, blankets and mattresses.
Today, as the government and people of Nepal begin the task of rebuilding, MCC will continue its support for households in four districts. Our partners live and work in these communities and are uniquely equipped to help us provide an effective and compassionate response.
We are mindful that even in the midst of widespread need, some households are especially vulnerable. Households with disabled, elderly or deceased family members face significant obstacles. Some are headed by women; others have family members injured in the earthquake.
Late in 2015, local MCC partner Shanti Nepal staff accompanied writer Julie Bell and photographer, Matthew Sawatzky, as they visited villages in Dhading District.
Here are some of the people that they met.
My name is Phoolmaya Chepang. I am 82 years old and I have lived here for at least 40 years. I live here alone. My husband and I didn’t have any children, so I have no one to take care of me. I used to get food from the neighbourhood, but now there’s not as much for me.
On the day of the earthquake, I went to see my stepson in the village. Then the earthquake came. When I went back and saw my house, it had all fallen down. There was just rubble. I stayed in a cowshed for a while, until someone from the village brought their buffalo to the shed. Then I moved into a tarp shelter and I am still living in that shelter.
When the monsoon season came I was very cold. It was rainy and hard.
I wish I had some animals that I could raise, but what I want most is some food and some blankets.
I think that I don’t want to build a new house. I am too old for that. I only want warm clothes and food.
I am Kamala Pariyar and I am 27 years old. Sitting beside me is my son, Sundar.
The earthquake happened around noon and I was at home. I had just finished cooking lunch. My children were there, and my husband was at work. The house started shaking and then it was completely destroyed. I took my children out into the field and we built our first temporary shelter. Later, my husband and I built a better one with zinc sheeting and tarps.
Two months after the earthquake my husband killed himself. He ran off a cliff. I don’t know why he did that. Maybe it was because of the earthquake.
Most of our income came from my husband working in the fields. In the first few months we were helped by others in the village. But now I don’t get help from others because I don’t have a husband. My children were crying out with hunger. After a few months, I left my village and came to this café, begging for work.
Now I work here as a dish cleaner, and I have a room and my kids stay here too. Look at my fingers, they are hurting from working in cold water all of the time.
I want to go back to my village and build a new house. I want to take care of my children, and I will try to find enough work to buy them what they need. I hope I can do that.
My name is Tanka Badadur Thapa Magar. I am 60 years old. My wife is 56, and her name is Guyani Maya Thapa Magar. We are both blind.
Tanka: Our house fell down in the earthquake. I was in the forest, but my wife and son, our daughter-in-law and granddaughter were just outside the house. They ran away and we are thankful that no one was hurt. We used tarps to build a shelter and stayed there for 15 or 16 days. Then friends and neighbours helped us build a better shelter. During the monsoon, it felt like the whole world would float away. There was water coming in. The only protection we had was from the tarp.
Guyani: I had a terrible dream the day before the earthquake. I felt as if something bad was coming. Now I still have bad days and bad dreams. I don’t recognize anything anymore. When I touch things, they don’t seem familiar to me. Sometimes we have to crawl to get around. When my husband is not here, I wait outside until he gets home.
Tanka: We still worry about another earthquake coming. But we want to build a new house in the same place. I have a little store where I sell things and I go into the forest for wood. We want to continue to do those things. This is our home.
As MCC continues its earthquake response, we will focus on under-served and hard to reach rural areas.
In four districts MCC is working with partners to provide skills training in earthquake safe construction techniques and support new home construction for vulnerable households. We will restore access to irrigation, seeds and agricultural tools so that people can earn a living.