by Lara Ghaoui, Emergency Programme Officer, World Vision UK
Two years ago, I had the chance to hike in the breathtaking Himalayas and I was struck by the beauty and grandeur of the nature in Nepal.
I was greeted by every single family I passed by with a ‘Namaste,’ all through the small villages beautifully carved in the heart of the mountains. ‘Namaste’ is probably the most common word you hear in Nepal, and the people always say it with a smile on their faces.
On the 25th April 2015, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. The earthquake ravaged whole villages, destroyed houses, and disrupted families' lives.
World Vision was immediately on the ground, helping and supporting staff and communities affected by the disaster. Thanks to our supporters and everyone who donated through the Disasters Emergency Committee, we are helping people with essential material such as shelter kits, hygiene supplies, mosquito nets and others.
Now, two years after I spent that gorgeous summer trekking the Himalayas, here I am, back again, this time to visit some of our relief projects set up in response to the earthquake.
When I arrived, I didn't really know what to expect. I was afraid "Namaste" would be buried under the remnants of the earthquake. I was afraid to be greeted by sad faces or not to be greeted at all.
My trip took me to some of our projects in Sindupalchok, one of the worst affected areas. There I met with children and women who had survived the earthquake, and heard about their experiences.
Sujita is a nine-year-old girl and the baby of her family, with five older sisters. Her mother invited us to their house, or rather, to the makeshift tent where their house used to stand. Sujita sat next to me, quietly, and told me what she remembered from the day of the earthquake. She was watching TV when the earthquake happened and she saw the TV falling seconds after the shock.
“I thought this would be my last day. I was crying and I was scared.” As I watched Sujita sharing fragments of her memories, I tried to imagine just what it must have felt like for her and all the other children like her, who were suddenly facing death and clinging strongly to life that morning.
12-year-old Dipa lives next door to Sujita with her two sisters. “I was in our shop in Kathmandu“ she begins slowly, recounting her memories of that morning, “and suddenly things started to fall off the shelves. I felt I was going to die.”
I also had the chance to visit a child friendly space, where mothers were learning about the importance of washing their hands and other basic hygiene practices to keep their babies safe.
There I met Romila, a mother of two young boys. Romila had a dreadful experience when the earthquake happened. "I was unconscious for 15 minutes and when I woke up, I found my children hugging me and crying,” she remembers. Like Sujita and Dipa, Romila’s house was also destroyed in the earthquake.
When I went to Nepal I didn't know what to expect. But coming back now, I’m glad to have seen that people are still smiling, moving on, rebuilding, creating and recreating again, the life they thought they had lost. Now I know that ’Namaste’ hasn't been buried. Houses were destroyed but people's courage has remained. Livelihoods were lost but children's hope remained.
With help, I’m sure now that we can rebuild again.