Geeta and her husband were walking on the dirt road when the shaking started. This earthquake was much stronger than any they had felt before. They ran frantically towards their house. They were afraid that their children were inside and would not be able to escape in time. When they reached the house, they found it had been destroyed, but thankfully their children been able to run outside and were safe.
Saturday, April 25, 2015 is a day no Nepalese person will soon forget. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake shattered so many lives. Over 9,000 people died and over half a million homes were damaged or destroyed.
Geeta’s family are farmers. They have always lived in Nepal’s Kavrepalanchok region. They grow potatoes, rice, and maize on two hectares of land. Their crops are usually enough to feed their family for six to seven months. To meet their needs for the other five to six months of the year, they work for others on their farms, especially at harvest time.
After the earthquake Geeta, her husband, along with their son and two daughters slept outside on the ground for two weeks as over 100 aftershocks continued to shake the country. Their only shelter was a tarp that they had previously used for drying crops.
They were only able to salvage some potatoes, salt, and chillies from their house. Everything else was buried in the rubble.
The generous support of our donors allowed ADRA to reach Geeta’s small, mountainside village. Geeta’s family was given a month’s supply of rice and lentils, along with another temporary tarp shelter.
Fortunately, their land was not damaged and has continued to be their main food source.
Almost a year later, life is very different for this family. Their two-storey, four-room house still lies crumbling. Her husband, a carpenter, has gone to Malaysia to look for work. They live in a one-room temporary aluminum shelter on a neighbour’s property. They use firewood to cook outside as they have no other kitchen facilities. When the rains come, the shelter floods and soaks the bed. There is little protection from the winter cold. They fear the monkeys and tigers that roam nearby.
Her family’s health has deteriorated. Geeta now has chronic respiratory problems. Her eldest daughter has head and stomach aches. For a long time, they were afraid of more aftershocks. Her youngest daughter still gets anxious when she feels the shaking from trucks passing on the nearby dirt road. The lack of proper sanitation causes fevers and diarrhea.
Geeta’s family is too poor to have the rubble of her house removed or to rebuild. For now they wait and hope.
A few villages away, Bishnu is hard at work.
He mixes cement, lays blocks, measures for straightness. He is one of the masons that ADRA has trained to build earthquake resilient houses.
Bishnu is 46 and has been a builder for 25 years. In that time he has built approximately 120 houses. Most of them were damaged in the earthquake. His own house was completely destroyed. He was inside sleeping when the stones began to fall around him. They were throwing the children out of the house. He didn’t know whether he would be able to get outside in time, or whether he would be buried inside like so many others. He did, but with only a second to spare.
He was familiar with ADRA as we had held some mobile health camps in his area, bringing doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and medical supplies to remote areas with little health care.
He was delighted when he heard that training was available to teach masons like himself how to build houses that would remain standing during earthquakes and very likely save lives. Perhaps even the lives of his children and grandchildren.
Now, instead of mud and rock, he uses bamboo, steel, and concrete blocks. The new houses are twice as expensive as the old ones, but take the same amount of time to build. A two-room bungalow requires only two weeks if he and his four helpers all work on it.
Bishnu says he will never go back to building houses the old way. He only wants to use the new techniques. He is grateful to ADRA and our supporters for the ways in which we have supported his people.
April 25, 2015, is not a day ADRA will soon forget. The earthquake happened at 11:56 am in Nepal (1:56 am EST). ADRA staff in Canada woke that Sabbath morning and immediately began reaching out to colleagues all over the world to determine the extent of the disaster. Within hours we knew that our colleagues in Nepal were all safe. Our office in Kathmandu was still standing, although it would be weeks before the staff would feel safe enough to return inside. Instead, they set up their operations under a tent on the office lawn.
Emails were sent to the Seventh-day Adventist church administrators and the ADRA Canada ambassadors, asking that members be informed of the disaster.
ADRA offices from around the world sent specially trained staff to respond. Some waited for days in nearby countries until the airport in Kathmandu, the only international airport in Nepal, was able to re-open.
Emergency supplies held in warehouses in anticipation of such events were released and shipped immediately.
Donations to aid the survivors poured in rapidly. This generous outpouring of support allowed us to provide food, water, hygiene items, shelter kits, and other needed supplies.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long history of aiding those in need. Your gifts to the Disaster and Famine Relief Offering enables ADRA to help those affected by earthquakes, famines, floods, conflicts, and other disasters whenever they happen.
Disasters can happen in moments. When they do, we need to be ready. Please give generously.