Runa stands up from the ruins
By Sunjuli Kunwar Singh, WV Nepal emergency communications officer
In the village of Lalitpur, in the Kathmandu Valley, only a few houses remain standing. Mounds of bricks and dirt from collapsed buildings and houses are everywhere. Runa’s home is one of the many houses that have been transformed into a pile of rubble.
“It is like a dream…a nightmare. I still cannot believe that my house is gone. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that my family and I are safe. We survived, and we can always build a new home,” says 19-year-old Runa.
Saturday started like a normal day for Runa; she was up on the rooftop of her two-storey house, hanging clothes to dry, when the earth began to shake. She heard a shattering noise across the tin roofs, and her water tank cover started rattling up and down. As soon as the movement stopped, she and her family sprinted outside to the open space in front of her house, and looked up in relief at the house still standing there.
Minutes later, the earth shook again, and in only a few seconds their entire home collapsed. Everything went down; the only part of the building that remained recognizable was the rooftop with their clothes scattered across it, some still hanging on the clothesline.
Runa saddens as she shares how the earthquake destroyed everything in her village. She estimates that around seven of her neighbors have died, and there are others who are still missing. The house adjoining theirs had three deaths – a five-year-old child, a one-year-old baby, and their hearing-impaired grandmother. After the earthquake, when the bulldozer came to find them in the rubble, they found the grandmother still sat holding the baby in her lap.
“I was totally blank for some time, and my legs were shivering. I could not believe what was happening in front of our eyes. It was frightening! We feel lucky to have survived. Thankfully no one in my family was hurt, including me even though I was on the roof,” Runa exclaimed.
Runa and her family have spent the nights since the earthquake in a make-shift tent that they’ve set up in the open space near their home. However, the tent, she said, poses its own problems. “It is especially difficult for girls, like me, to go out as many toilets are destroyed,” Runa explained.
“All my books and uniform are under the debris, I just don’t know what to do, how I will go back to college,” Runa says, trying to hide her tears. She is a nursing student and classes were supposed to resume this week.
As she wiped her tears, Runa’s face lit up and she smiled. “My community has suffered a lot and it would be a great thing if I can do something in any way I can, back to my people.”
Runa and many of her friends have been helping to care for the injured in their village. World Vision will soon be setting up one of six planned Child Friendly Spaces in the area and Runa is planning to volunteer.