‘People don’t want to show their personal life any more’

‘People don’t want to show their personal life any more’

“Today is the National Photojournalist Day. But it is also the anniversary of the earthquake. So instead of celebrating ourselves, we decided to donate blood. It is our currency. Right behind me is where the Dharahara tower collapsed and many people died. The Nepalese people had a very challenging year since then. A year of aftershocks and the blockade. It changed people in a way. People used to be happy when we photojournalists would take their picture. But now they don’t want show their personal life any more.”

Photo: Sven Wolters

‘They were happy because we gave them hope’

“The most dangerous thing post-earthquake is epidemic diseases, so me and a few other doctors focussed our attention on that. We distributed purification pills to sanitise water, and sanitary pads. After a while we also went to help outside the Kathmandu valley. There we saw a lot of misery, whole villages were destroyed. People were searching their ruins for food, separating mud and rice. There was no rescue efforts there. There was nothing in that remote area, because nobody would walk for 3, 4, 5 hours to go for supplies. The most important thing we gave them was hope. We could see that in their eyes. They were not happy because we gave them sanitation, they were happy because we gave them hope.”

Photo: Pratik Rana

‘I wish god would give the authorities an ear to listen to the voices of the victims’

“People say it was God’s injustice to let that earthquake happen to us. But I have faith in God. Just imagine how much worse it would have been if the earthquake happened at night time, or on a weekday. Scientists forecast that if a big earthquake hits, Kathmandu would be totally destroyed. But look, we are still alive and I hope God will continue to look after us. But the government is not looking after us. They are the ones who are unjust. Many victims still live in temporary shelters and their needs are ignored. I am here today to pray so the souls of that day may rest in peace. I just wish God would give the authorities an ear to listen to the voices of the victims, an eye to see their pitiful situation, a heart to feel their emotion and a hand to finally do something for them.”

Photo: Enika Rai

‘He took away the relief money’

“He was in the army. We were completely smitten with each other and eloped. We had four beautiful children before he got posted to Kathmandu and got involved with someone else. Now the only time he speaks to me is to fight with me. He says I was whoring around the village and that the children are not his. He doesn’t help with their education, he doesn’t provide for anything, and he took away the relief money the government gave after the earthquake.”

‘Once, I woke up to find a snake slithering in my bed’

“We lost two houses in the earthquake. Our original home in Ikudol and our rented house in Badhikel. We spent five miserable days under the open sky. When we asked for help from our Village Development Committee, they told us to request it from the place we moved to. When we asked here, they said we should ask our original VDC. So we fell between the cracks and received nothing. We managed to buy zinc sheets and begged our neighbours for the bamboo and wood we needed. Now, my parents, my sister and I live under one zinc roof. This single room is our bedroom, kitchen, sitting room and store room. It is too hot in summer, too cold in winter. Once, I woke up to find a snake slithering in my bed. But we’ll probably stay here for four or five years. I’m determined to work hard, earn money, and build a new house for my family.”

Photo: Naomi Mihara

‘I shall be alone for as long as I work here.’

“I have been working and living in this hotel for the past 15 years. I am the only security guard here. I want to be with my family but if I don’t work, there won’t be food on the table nor money to rebuild my home. Living away from them is not easy. It gets very lonely. All the staff members go back to their homes while I have to sleep in my quarters. I am alone at night, alone in the day, and shall be alone for as long as I work here.”

Photo: Namita Rao

‘I need to rise for the sake of the kids’

“That terrible earthquake buried everything. I lost my wife, my children lost their mother, I lost the business, I lost my leg. I lost everything. I don’t even want to remember that day. My wife, Mithu, used to fast, worship God and visit pilgrims, but that selfish God was not just to her and her family. Life has changed a lot for me since the earthquake. With steel fitted inside my injured body and two small children in my lap, I need to fight back against a life full of darkness. I need to go for medical checks every month. I have no plans for the future. Sooner or later, I need to rise for the sake of the kids. I am thinking of setting up the business again. Let’s see where time will lead me and my children.”

Photo: Mandira Dulal

‘He had seen Anju two minutes before. Two minutes after, she was gone’

“Anju was my daughter-in-law. She had just come back from the river, after washing clothes. She ran in to save her daughter, Anisha, who was eating in the kitchen. Anisha was saved, but Anju got stuck under the rubble.

“It took us more than an hour-and-a-half to locate where she was buried. She was under the rubble of two houses. There were continuous aftershocks at that time, which terrified us. Even our goats betrayed us that day. When we were looking for her, we heard a sound. We thought it was Anju, we dug out the rubble. But it was the goats. We saved them, but we lost Anju.

“I do not know if Anisha understands her mother is gone. She keeps asking for her. When she gets angry, she lies on the ground, asking for her mother. She cries covering her face. She wants her mother. We have not let her see the picture of Anju.

“My son Suresh has not been the same. He cried a lot. He was like a madman. It took a long time for the villagers to make him understand death is an inseparable part of life. Everyone will die once they are on earth. The only question is whether it is sooner or later. He had seen Anju two minutes before. Two minutes after, she was gone. He has not been able to forget that.

“My husband Damodar performed the funeral rituals. We received NPR 140,000 [about £880] from the government. Suresh has kept the money in a cooperative bank account in Anisha’s name. Six months have passed, but none of us are able to forget.”

Photo: Mandira Dulal

‘The winter is going to be harsh and they can’t go on living in this tent’

“The winter is going to be very harsh and that’s why I have been convincing them to rent a flat. They can’t go on living in this tent. My grandmother can’t walk much. This has narrowed down my options because I need to find a house on the ground floor. But because of the earthquake, everyone these days wants a house on the ground floor or the first floor. So the search just gets tougher each day.”

Photo: Namita Rao

‘This year I did the Dashain puja in one corner of my relative’s home’

“This year I did the [Dashain] puja in one corner of my relative’s home. My home collapsed in the earthquake and my neighbour had to get me out of the rubble. In the last six months, I have had to move several times. The first night I slept under the open sky. The next day we collected plastic sheets lying around and made a small tent. Rescue teams then came in with different services and that’s when everyone started fighting for food and tents. Now, I live in this tent provided by one of the NGOs and this is what I have to call home.”

Photo: Namita Rao