“I was sure my children were dead. Then I heard their voices from the distance. They shouted: ‘We’re fine!’ Sangita Thing describes her shock when the earthquake hit her home village in Nepal, 25 of April. The earthquake destroyed the homes, entire worlds of hundreds of thousands. Still, life has to go on.
Despair shows on the faces of locals. Sangita Thing, 26, tells about her experiences in the countryside: “I was working in the field when the earthquake started. I ran to look for my children. When I arrived there was only a cloud of dust where my home had been. I was terrified. All the strength disappeared from my body and I collapsed on the ground. I was sure my children were dead. Then I heard their voices from the distance. They shouted: We’re fine!’ ”
Exodus from Kathmandu. According to estimations, half a million have fled from Kathmandu to the countryside. Many try to reach Western Nepal, where the earthquake didn’t wreak havoc.
Two sisters, Saraswon and Sharmila Moktan are looking at the destruction of their home village in front of what is left from their home. “We cannot go anywhere else; our piece of land is here. Elsewhere we have nothing.”
Small farmer Sabita Moktan, 24, is standing on ruins in her remote village in Bhattedanda area on the wooded hillside. Destroyed houses and dead cattle are now the only thing the villagers own. The reconstruction will be an enormous job; here people cannot even afford corrugated iron or wooden parts for houses. “All of a sudden, I became homeless. I don’t know where I could stay. If I had a tent, it could give me shelter from the rain. I cannot even imagine what we will do when the rainy season starts”.
Rita Mukta bruised her leg badly during the earthquake but now she is again able to carry her grandchild. Most of the houses in her home village were destroyed. Day after day, the villagers wait for aid to arrive. In Nepal, bad roads and small airports slowed down the emergency response during the first days. Luckily, assistance has finally started to flow in.
In the middle of devastation. The familiar home alley of this old Bhaktapurian lady turned unrecognizable in seconds. Nothing is as it used to be.
Ten-year-old Sasmita Susmitalopchan shares his shelter made of corrugated iron with seven families in the Nepalese countryside. 21 people sleep in an shed of just a few square meters. “I was boiling rice when the earthquake started. I ran out onto the field. Our home was destroyed. Everything is lost”, Sasmita says, looking down. “I am still afraid.”
Door to nothing. The only thing that is left from this Bhaktapurian house is a door leading nowhere. Bhaktapur was worst hit among the cities of Kathmandu Valley. The devastation is even worse outside the cities.
Jeena Shrestra was sitting in front of the kitchen table on the third floor when the earthquake struck. The roof, stairs, and walls caved in around her. “I thought this was the end”, she says. But the inner walls held. After the earthquake, Jeena was still sitting in her chair in front of the table, the ruins of the fallen roof around her.
Old men. One thing never changes: old men sitting outside all day long in Bhaktapur, wondering the course of life, even when the whole world has collapsed around them.
Text and Photos: Antti Helin
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Fundraising permission ÅLR 2019/6485, valid 1.1.-31.12.2020 Aland
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