SABITA Shrestha of Surrey along with her friend Eva Pradhan of Richmond recently returned home after three weeks of earthquake relief work in Nepal. Moved by the utter destruction caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 25 and the subsequent one of magnitude 7.4 on May 12, Shrestha, along with Pradhan, left Vancouver on May 13 on a humanitarian mission to Nepal.
Right from the very next day of their arrival in Nepal, they hit the ground running. They went to Lubu, Khokana, Siddhichaur, and Godamchaur, four of the worst-hit villages on the outskirts of Kathmandu, to distribute relief materials. In these villages all they could see was complete destruction by the sheer force of the Mother Nature. In one of the villages they met a 94-year-old woman who had survived the 8.3-magnitude earthquake of 1934, the biggest in the past 81-year history of Nepal and India.
On May 19, as soon as they heard the news that no relief materials had reached three remote villages of Ramechhap, about 150 km east of Kathmandu, they teamed up with a local group and went there with a truckload of relief materials such as rice, lentils, blankets, salt, mosquito nets and tents. Subsequently on May 22, early in the morning at 5 a.m., they set out for Dumja. When they reached their destination, the villagers were already assembled at the location where the dirt road ends, leading to the village. They distributed 1,500 kg of rice, 50 mosquito nets, 50 thin fleece blankets, 50 kg of nutri-nuggets and 100 packets of salt to 50 Dalit families – the most marginalized population in Nepal.
After the distribution, Shrestha and Pradhan braved the 33C heat and hiked for two hours on mountainous trail to see the damage in the village with their own eyes. After seeing the destruction and suffering of the people, Pradhan says, “We saw 90% of the houses destroyed and another 5% cracked and unlivable. Looking at the impact the earthquake had left in this village, we hoped that we were able to put a little balm to their wounds. We hope that this community will be able to rebuild their lives soon again.”
With the monsoon approaching, never has the need for temporary shelter with galvanized iron-sheet roofs been so urgent for those who have lost everything to these deadly quakes. Realizing this need, the two teamed up with Hatemalo Banasthali, a local community group, and built a home for a single mom in Sirutar, a village on the outskirts of Bhaktapur. Then after, they built temporary shelters in Bimire (Dhadhing), Nisakathan (Kavre), Panauti (Kavre), and Bhattedandha (Lalitpur). Altogether they built or helped build 138 temporary shelters for mostly Tamang families of these villages.
Pradhan raised over $7,500 through gofundme.com and an additional $11,000 in cash and cheques directly from friends and families for the duo’s relief work in Nepal.