Being Of Some Help For Quake-hit People

The May 12 aftershock of magnitude 6.8 again shattered our confidence. Slowly our lives were getting normal amidst tremors. I consider myself to be fortunate to have survived this catastrophe that fell upon us.

June 12, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 09 No. -1 June. 12- 2015 (Jestha 29, 2072)

The morning of April 25, 2015 was like any other Saturday morning. I was planning for a get-together with my former colleagues, Umesh and Jeni of Nepal Constitution Foundation. I headed to take a bath. As I was bathing, it started shaking unusually. It was difficult for me to stand straight without the support of the wall. The wall was swaying too. I couldn't come out of the bathroom because I couldn't balance myself on the two legs. I was concerned about my grandmother, the 95 years old lady, who was sitting on her bed. After the initial earthquake had subdued I wrapped a towel around and headed to see Ama. She was sitting on her bed chanting God's name. She was talking Gods and Goddesses. The earth shook again and wouldn't stop. The shaking felt like for eternity. This was one of the times when Ama and I saw the fear of death in each other's face.

After we survived the first 7.6 magnitude earthquake, we spent the whole day outside in the open. There were aftershocks throughout the day. That day many perished. I am a survivor.

On Sunday, April 26, there was yet another major aftershock of magnitude 6.9 which shattered our confidence that was rebuilding after the first earthquake. We were glued to the radio stations which were giving us the information about the earthquake and the damage to the lives and property it had done.

Namita Bhauju (sister in law) suggested that young energetic people should volunteer instead of sitting at home and chatting. It pricked my conscience. She was right.

On Monday I went out with Shreya and Pabitra to witness the damage the earthquake had done. On our way to Basantapur we saw food being distributed for which people were queuing up. People had already started helping each other. There were large number of people camping in Tundhikhel. In Basantapur, historic buildings were razed to the ground. The ones standing tall too were damaged. People were camping outside in the open amidst uncertainties. From Basantapur, three of us went to Bir Hospital. There were patients being brought in. I met Semanta who was volunteering. He inspired me too. He was carrying patients who were being brought to the hospital premises. That evening I was listening to one of the government officers and my close acquaintance talk. It made me very uncomfortable. His skillful arguments were full of escapism, avoidance and negativity. He wasn't being of help to anyone in the field.

The next day I decided to go out to volunteer like thousands of other youths. For the next two days I went to assist producing 'Piyush', a chlorine solution to purify water. I couldn't give much time in producing but it helped me gain my sanity. I also got an opportunity to witness the damage done to Shankhu that evening. Advocate Bishnu Bashyal and Dr. Yog Raj Khandel were taking drinking water to the area. I could see collapsed buildings from the road near Shankhu. We were not allowed to see the major damage done to the town as the roads were blocked by the debris in the inner city and security forces had sealed the road.

The following day Pabitra, Rukmanee, Niraj, Suresh and Pravin CP were planning to take relief materials to Danuwar Basti in Shindhupalchowk. I volunteered to drive. When we reached Danuwar Basti what I saw was beyond my imagination. Most of the houses were gone to the ground. The ones standing tall were unlivable. The grains had mixed up with soil and was rendered inedible. There was a plastic shed where thirty people were living. The wildlife threatened their cattle. We were the first to reach with relief materials but not with enough for them.

In the next trip I joined Amir and Pratik's team to Kavre and Sidhunli. Fearing that there will be disputes between the people who would get relief materials and those who wouldn't because we didn't have enough for everyone, we called some down in the highway. There were definitely few locals who complained that not enough relief materials were brought and that they didn't get a share. Everyone realized it wasn't an easy task to distribute relief materials when there weren't enough for everyone. A pack of relief material contained rice, lentils, ghee, biscuits, instant noodles, Piyush, deworming medicine, paracetamol, vitamins, sanitary pads, soap, tent, salt, turmeric, 'chyankla', nuggets and beaten rice.

Pabitra, Bikash, Prabhu and I went to Urleni 9, Bangeswara, Nuwakot the next day. The issue here was slightly different. The place was off-road and ordinarily they had enough to eat and live life. Because they were well off they didn't get noticed after the earthquake for being rendered  homeless and without food in the aftermath. However, as they told us, all the houses were leveled to the ground. We didn't go to the village as it was already getting late and we had to return to Kathmandu the same evening.

The May 12 aftershock of magnitude 6.8 again shattered our confidence. Slowly our lives were getting normal amidst tremors. I consider myself to be fortunate to have survived this catastrophe that fell upon us. Everyday the fear still remains and my heart cries out for those who have lost lives and property. More than eight thousand seven hundred lives and property worth billions of rupees have been lost. Finally I wouldn't have said enough if I don't salute those who have been working in the field helping the earthquake victims. Every little effort makes a difference.

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