After I heard that my house in my village of Kavre, about 40km southeast of Kathmandu, had been reduced to rubble, I travelled there with my wife. My children stayed behind with my brother and my mother in Kathmandu.
When I arrived, I found that the house I grew up in had been destroyed. I helped my father and relatives to clear debris and set up a temporary shelter for them, but the damage in my village is so huge and wide that almost none of the houses are suitable for living. This is truly the worst disaster I have ever experienced.
And the rain and the aftershocks – we have experienced more than 30 – have made the situation worse.
A couple of days ago, there was a huge thunderstorm. We managed to build a small shelter covered with plastic but water was entering from all sides and it was very difficult to spend the night there. Some of the clothes that we managed to take out of the house were soaked through – the rain is making it even more difficult for the people in our community. My family members in Kavre and Kathmandu are staying outside their houses due to fear of frequent aftershocks.
In the ancient capital, many of the heritage buildings and temples have been destroyed. Lots of the houses have cracks and some people are taking risks to go inside, but many are too scared because they could collapse at any time. They are living outside, or with others, but it is really difficult to cope. Families are using their food stocks up, but soon they are going to run out and the shops are having difficulty getting stock.
In addition, some livestock that is being kept in barn-like structures (called “goth’ in Nepali) were trapped inside and now they are all dead, so it is anticipated that in a few weeks maybe there could be other health hazards because of that. Cattle were also very important for livelihoods which have now been destroyed.
I was back in Kathmandu for a short while and then yesterday I headed out with the Mercy Corps teams to fully assess damage in my village and other nearby villages. We are responding to the urgent needs but also looking at the longer recovery for the country. Mercy Corps already has a staff of 90 people in Nepal and we have been working hard for the last few days to get hygiene kits, shelter kits and basic emergency supplies to those who need them.
Right now, people need urgent help – estimates are saying that millions in my country have been affected by the earthquake. Women and girls, families and the elderly are going to be sleeping outside for days, weeks and months and it is going to take a long time to clear up the devastation, to rebuild infrastructure and homes and lives of people of Nepal.
Chet Bahadur Tamang is Assistant Programme Manager for Edinburgh-based international aid charity Mercy Corps. To donate to Mercy Corps’ urgent appeal for survivors of the Nepal Earthquake, go to: www.mercycorps.org.uk