“Everybody thought she had died. I thought she was dead.”
When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal at 11.56 on 25 April 2015, Bimala Tamang and her family were doing their usual Saturday activities. Bimala was at a neighbour’s place. Her husband, Sanjay, and 15-year-old son, Bijay, were doing some electrical repairs around the house. Her 11-year-old daughter, Maichang, was playing in the field, and her other daughter, 13-year-old Sangmaya, stayed at home.
[photo|646224]“I started crying when I couldn’t find my children. I got worried. I was running around, here and there, trying to find them,” recalls Bimala. “The whole family was reunited after an hour except for Sangmaya. Everybody thought Sangmaya was dead. I lost all hope.”
When children milling around their house heard crying from under the rubble, they immediately gathered the neighbors and started digging. After three hours, they found Sangmaya. Thankfully, alive. As it turns out, Sangmaya’s leg got caught under the stairs, and she was unable to run outside as the house came crashing on her.
Picking Up The Pieces
I met Bimala at a school in Kubinde Ward 9, in the municipality of Chautara in Sindhupalchok District. She was in line, with hundreds of others, waiting to receive rice from the World Food Programme (WFP).
“After the earthquake we didn’t eat anything for a day,” Bimala says. “We were only able to eat the following day, at the village’s common kitchen where they served dal bhat and rice.”
“Our house was completely destroyed. We have nothing left except for the clothes on our back,” says Sanjay.
[photo|646219]After five days in a makeshift shelter built from materials salvaged from the remains of their house, Bimala and her family decided to leave their home in Barabise, also in Sindhupalchok, and moved to Bimala’s parents’ house in Kubinde.
“There was nothing left for us there. We want to take care of our parents and stay together and see this difficult situation through,” explains Sanjay.
[photo|646218]Not that their situation in Kubinde is very different. From the food distribution area, we walk a few metres on a dirt road, back to their home which at the moment had three beds in a row, covered with clean bed sheets. A large sheet of plastic is stretched across the roof to protect them from rain. They have an open kitchen where they cook with firewood. Two goats are tethered to a post. And in the midst of collapsed mud bricks, a small TV set.
“The schools are closed. There is no work. Businesses have closed. What can we do? I don’t know what to do. We’ll just stay here for now,” says Bimala.
“But at least for a few days, I know we can eat. I can feed my children.”
WFP urgently needs funds for this complex relief operation. We need US$116.6 million to provide food for 1.4 million earthquake-affected people for three months. For common services related to logistics, air transport and telecommunications, WFP requires another US$34 million over the next three months. You can support WFP’s work in Nepal by making a donation at www.wfp.org/nepal.