‘Who will listen to the voices of the small people in this country?’

‘Who will listen to the voices of the small people in this country?’

“After the earthquake, lots of government workers came to the village. They took photos and took name after name after name. But when the list came on the noticeboard, many victims from our village were missing. The only ones who got help were those who were from the city. Who will listen to small people? Who will listen to the voices of the small people in this country?”

Photo: Shemin Nair

‘It might take 10 years, 20 years to return to the state we were in’

“We lost six goats and a buffalo in the earthquake. We lost so much food. One ton of rice got damaged. The house collapsed onto our farm. The money from the government covered only food, it wasn’t enough for shelter. Our children are getting older and the expenditure is increasing. It might take 10 years, 20 years to return to the state we were in.”

Photo: Shemin Nair

‘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

‘We used to take selfies with the nice background of temples. Now we try to hide it’

“The earthquake destroyed the charm of Basantapur Durbar Square. It used to be more joyful. I heard on the radio and saw it on TV that we got a lot of donations from foreign countries for reconstruction. But till today our government has done nothing here. They didn’t use the donations! It’s a big loss for the people and the country. Because of our cultural heritage, our tourism sector was strong. But now we don’t see much foreigners around here any more. And also I haven’t come to Durbar Square in a long time. Me and my friends always used to meet at Trailokya Mohan temple. We used to take selfies with the nice background of the temples. But now we try to hide it when we take pictures.”

Photo: Pratik Rana


‘They have not told me the name of his disease. They just said my son will never be normal’

“They wanted to kill my son because he is not normal. That is why I left my husband and his family in Ramechhap. That was 15 years ago. Since then I have been living here. I work as a maid so that I can rent a room and take care of my son.

“But then the earthquake came and now I live in this camp. It is very difficult. My son cannot control his voice and he is very loud. The others here get angry about him and complain. We are not part of the community here. I want to move, but nobody will rent me a room because of him. So I have to continue here.

“Every day I take my son to the school for disabled children. It is tough, because he cannot walk by himself. I put my arms around him so he does not fall. It’s even worse here in the camp because the paths are not straight. So every morning we stumble on the way together, and in the afternoon we stumble back.

“Whenever I can afford it, I prepare noodles for him. It’s what he loves most. It makes me happy to see him full of joy and relaxed. The doctors have given me some medicine, not to cure him, just to calm him. They have not told me the name of his disease. They just said my son will never be normal.

“But all the hardship does not matter. Because of all what happened during the earthquake I love my son even more than before. We all have lost so much, but I still have him.”

Photo: Sven Wolters

‘If we fail to perform our rituals properly, it will bring a bad fate’

“We have been unable to reconstruct our guthi house [small temple]. It is the traditional place where we Newaris perform our rituals. Some of these rituals have to be performed in secret. We cannot do that in tents. There is no privacy. And it is not safe to store our religious and cultural items in tents. So we carry them around all the time. It is very sad and it pains me to perform our rituals nowadays. But whatever the condition, we have to keep our culture alive. This is what makes us unique in this world. Despite the hardships, we must perform our rituals. If we fail to do it properly, it will bring a bad fate.”

Photo: Sameen Poudel

‘Some engineers said my house was unstable, others said it only needs minor repairs’

“Right now I am confused. My house has been inspected by the municipality and the Central Districts Office. The community service also inspected it. The municipality engineers said my house was unstable. The CDO engineers said it can be made stable by demolishing the top two of the four storeys. The community service said it could be safe to live with minor repairs. So now, what do I do?

“And I’m not alone with this problem. There is one house in my locality with cracks all over. One engineer said they only need some taku [wooden beams] to keep living there. All around Patan there are houses supported with taku. But with the aftershocks still going on, the situation is hazardous. These houses could fall down even with a minor quake. People live in constant danger. But if they were to demolish their houses, where would they live?

“The government focuses on fully destroyed houses. But what about partially damaged ones? They are silent on this matter and people are left to live in danger. It seems we don’t have any alternative besides living in houses with taku. Even that is not cheap. The three takus for my house cost me Rs 38,000 [approximately £230].

“Also, CDO officials say that a person having two houses can only get relief for one of them, even if both are damaged. That doesn’t sound fair to me. I’m paying taxes for both house I own, but I get relief for only one of them?”

Photo: Nitika Shrestha

‘I spent the last 300 rupees of my relief money on him’

“My wife died 35 years ago. Now I only have my dogs. This one is Kancha. He needed medicine against rabies, so I spent the last 300 rupees of my relief money on him. I got NPR 25,000 [approximately £165] in all. But I needed asthma medicines. I needed appointments with the doctor. This was the last bit. Now it is gone.”

Photo: Pratik Rana