The difference shelter makes

For the children who experienced the earthquake in Nepal, the destruction of their homes and the chaos that followed is still causing nightmares six months later. Nine-year-old Sujita is still terrified when she remembers the two major tremors that shook her home, forcing her family to sleep outside in the open. But thanks to World Vision distributions in her area, Sujita and her family can at least sleep safely under proper shelter while they wait for normality to return.

Sujita was in her neighbour’s house when the earthquake struck. She was able to escape from the building, but she stood powerless as she watched the walls of her own home come tumbling down in an eruption of dust, engulfing the whole area. The unsteady remains and frequent aftershocks meant Sujita and her family had to retreat to a nearby field for the next few weeks.

“While we slept outside, it was very sad to see our house standing there as rubble. What was worse was that it was raining and cold too, and we had to stay outside,” she reflects.

The earthquake was over in a few minutes, but it’s had a lingering impact on Sujita’s life. She and her family had nothing to use as a roof to shield them from the elements while they were sleeping in the field. After two nights, her family bought a simple tarpaulin to cover them, but it wore out after just a few days.

Thankfully, our distribution camp in Sindhupalchowk reached Sujita and her family. When we set up to provide relief items to families living outside of their homes, Dhanmaya, Sujita’s mother, was able to come and get some of the supplies that she so desperately needed for her family.

Some of the aid distributed to families like Sujita’s included ‘household kits’ - consisting of blankets and mosquito nets, ‘hygiene kits’ – containing soap and toiletries, and ‘shelter kits’ - containing tarpaulins and ropes.

Sujita tells me that she feels very safe under their new tarpaulin, as it is big, strong and durable. Her parents have managed to move a few beds under it so now the whole family can sleep inside – including Sujita’s cousins.

“We feel very safe here. In our village we have tigers, bears and snakes and when we were staying in the open for two nights, a snake came near, but we sent it away. However this tent seems to be much safer and I haven’t seen any since then,” Sujita says as she smiles.

Sujitas cousin’s, Sushmita and Swikriti, enjoy being under the same roof as the rest of the family where they can talk and play as much as they want. It’s become much easier to get to sleep now that they are free from the constant fear that comes with sleeping in the open.

With the monsoon in Nepal meaning rain almost every day, Sujita says that the tarpaulin is keeping her family comfortable and dry as it has no leaks and is strong and secure.

“After being in the rain for two nights, we now have the tarpaulin to cover us and protect us from rain. We do not get wet, and that is why we have brought our bed here so that we can sleep more comfortably. When I sleep here, I can sleep in relief,” she says, as her family nods their heads in agreement.

Due to its proximity to the epicentre of the earthquake, Sindhupalchowk was one of the most heavily affected districts. Six months on, the majority of the buildings remain damaged, leaving people outside until the rebuilding effort can begin in earnest.

To date, World Vision has distributed 29,543 tarpaulins to help families like Sunita’s, and reached 37,058 households in the region - almost 200,000 people. For improved, more durable, shelter, World Vision has also started distributing corrugated iron sheets to families. You can read more about our relief effort by visiting our Nepal Update Page.

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