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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Nepal earthquake survivors building better lives

By the time the earthquake and aftershocks that struck Nepal last April had subsided, 9,000 people were dead, 22,000 were injured, and 800,000 homes lay in ruin.

Sumitra, a life-long resident of Sunkhani, located in the Nuwakot District of central Nepal, was among the survivors.

Recently, one of HOPE International Development Agency’s partners in Nepal visited with families, like Sumitra’s, who have been working tirelessly to rebuild their lives, livelihoods, homes, and community.

Sumitra has lived in Sunkhani her entire life and works as a labourer whenever she can find work. Her husband left her 12 years ago. With three children and no income, life has been a day-to-day struggle ever since.

When the earthquake struck, Sumitra lost everything. In just a few seconds, her house, and everything in it, lay in ruin.

“I felt hopeless. My children and I had no food or shelter,” says Sumitra, recalling the terrifying event. “We had to sleep outside under the trees, with empty stomachs. All of our clothes, food, and blankets were destroyed.

In the hours and days after the earthquake, it became clear that it would take months, if not longer, to recover, especially for the poorest of the poor in rural Nepal, like Sumitra.

“I had lost all of my hope,” says Sumitra. “For days we didn’t hear from anyone. I thought that the government didn’t care if we lived or died.”

But Sumitra’s feelings changed when a relief camp was set up within a week or so of the earthquake. The camp would help build emergency shelters, and distribute food and clothes to the most vulnerable families, like Sumitra’s.

“I couldn’t stop crying because of how grateful I was,” recalls Sumitra when she found out that she would receive the support she needed to rebuild her home.

Today, Sumitra and her children live in a sturdy, safe home. This past month, friends of HOPE International Development Agency raised additional funds to start self-help groups for women in Sumitra’s community. Sumitra, and other women just like her, will receive training, support, and small, low-interest loans to start small businesses that will generate income.

Sumitra and other women in her community have lifted themselves out of the rubble of April 17, 2015 and rebuilt their lives, all through the support of friends of HOPE International Development Agency.

What HOPE International Development Agency is doing
Much more needs to be done to address the poverty that exists in remote communities like Sumitra’s, HOPE International Development Agency is continuing to work alongside these communities to identify the most vulnerable families and provide the support needed to construct replacement homes and establish additional self-help groups that provide women with training in animal husbandry, tailoring, health and hygiene, as well as basic education such as reading and writing. Two schools, destroyed by the earthquake, will be rebuilt so that the children can continue their education and the women have a safe place to learn and plan for their future.