Devastating earthquake 2.5 million Nepalis homeless

A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25th, 2015 left over 2.5 million Nepalis homeless.

One month later, a race begins to build temporary shelters before the heavy monsoon rains arrive in June.

But rebuilding homes in the flattened rural districts that continue to be hit by daily aftershocks means also finding ways to rebuild lives left in limbo.

Collapsed homes have buried farmers’ food supplies and tools as well as many of their buffaloes, goats and chickens. It is here, in the rubble of countless towns and villages that the new future of Nepal will take shape.

To rebuild, first you have to destroy.

In mountain villages, the Nepali army is helping villagers pull down earthquake-mangled houses. Wood beams and corrugated iron sheets – will be reused as shelter.

Hardest hit by the earthquake– the villages of Nepal – built on vertical slopes – isolated — prone to landslides – especially during the monsoon rains – just weeks away.

At Jhankri Danda, a village three hours south of Kathmandu, a relief distribution of tarps and hygiene items – it takes place on the only flat space – a single lane dirt road.

It is crowded but orderly – according to a government list of villagers’ names and needs. For all here, survival also means digging through the rubble of houses for anything that can be saved.

No one in his family died. Everyone was working in the nearby fields when the earthquake hit. But all that is left standing of his house are three doors and a TV – now broken – that his son gave him last year.

Today he like many other villagers received a UNHCR tarp – with his son’s help he covers the leaky roof of the corrugated iron shack he now calls home.

In the village, Jagat Thing is luckier than most. All his buffaloes survived and he can still earn about three dollars a day selling their milk. Like the other villagers he has his fields. He also knows the future is grim.

During the quake, he pulled his grandmother, 81, out of the collapsing house. She suffers now from bad headaches and anxiety. His dried maize, buckwheat, millet, and all his cooking utensils were buried and lost. It took him a week to find a pair of shoes to wear.

Especially for children life is in slow motion – with little to do except exist.

In Nepal, the world has turned upside down. But like so many others, Jagat Thing knows he has to stay strong and that together the country can rebuild.



Various shots, Nepali soldiers breaking down crumbling house

Oats under crumbling house

Solders breaking down crumbling house

Soldiers working on debris

Village from a distance in mountains.

Villagers waiting for supplies

Villagers receiving supplies

Various shots, Tamang clearing debris

Dhan’s family sitting on destroyed wood furniture.

Dhan’s family

Woman walking through rubble

Old TV in debris

Various shots, Dhan and son laying UNHCR tarp on the roof of a house

Jagat walking down hill

Jagat playing with his child

Various shots, old lady

Burnt and crumbled house

Debris overlooking mountains

People receiving supplies with debris next to them.

Mother holding child looking at people receiving supplies

Various shots, people receiving supplies

Old man waiting to receive supplies looking into camera

SOUNDBITE (Nepali) Dhan Bahadur Tamang, 66, farmer:

“I dig through the rubble myself – I begin just with a cup of tea – I start at 4 AM and work until dark.”

SOUNDBITE (Nepali) Dhan Bahadur Tamang, 66, farmer:

“My two buffalos died. The house moved back and forth and then collapsed.”

SOUNDBITE (Nepali) Jagat Thing, Displaced Villager:

“It will take a long time to bring our lives back to normal – maybe 15 to 20 years.”

SOUNDBITE (Nepali) Jagat Thing, Displaced Villager:

“I don’t panic. Sometimes I sing. I make them laugh. I tell them stories. I make the neighbours laugh too.”