By Roshan Maharjan, Rotary E-Club of District 3292 Nepal
I was finishing a lecture at the Academia International College in Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal, on 25 April when the ground began to shake with increasing violence and I had trouble standing on my own. Supporting myself on the side of a computer table, I noticed my students were very frightened. As I consoled them as best I could, I also worried about my mother, brother, sister, and wife and children. It wasn’t until I got the text from them that all was OK that I could breathe a sigh of relief, but I was suffering from a terrible headache. The earthquake was 7.9 in magnitude.
After a few hours at the college compound, I decided to go see my family, and found my motorbike knocked over, with the mirror and clutch broken, but usable. My apartment and everyone in it were OK. I was also relieved to find my mother’s old house still standing, but it had developed worse cracks and was not safe to live in. There were plenty of aftershocks, so we stayed out in the open for a few hours until my sister and brother-in-law arrived, and we went to stay with them in Kupondole.
I could not sleep that night, because I still had a bad headache and everyone was unnerved by the shaking every hour or two. On the second day, we were sitting around talking about what to do next when a huge aftershock hit. That’s when my wife spoke up and said “We are Rotarians, we should start something to help the earthquake victims.” I called our Rotary e-club members and set a meeting for the next day in Pulchowk in the district of Lalitpur.
We decided to distribute basic necessities to help survivors in Bungamati. Several of us collected money to purchase rice, cheura (beaten rice), dry foods, water, and basic medicines to rush to the area, which had been badly damaged by the quake. We also distributed relief supplies that same day to locations in Harisiddhi, Thaiba, Badegaun, and Lubhu in Lalitpur.
We continued our relief efforts in Thuladurlung, where we were supposed to start a library project at a local high school in the most remote area in the south of Lalitpur district. All of the houses were damaged and uninhabitable. We handed out one-ton bags of rice, lentils, medicine, water, cheura, tents, and clothes.
A day later, almost all of our club gathered for another meeting, where we decided to continue our rebuilding effort and reach out to friends and connections locally and globally. We began building shelters for earthquake survivors in Ananta-Lingeshwor in the ninth ward between 9 and 20 May and handed over 20 bamboo cottages on 13 June. We are very thankful for friends, family, and Rotary members in Germany, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and many other countries, who supported our effort materially and in other ways.
We moved on to the Kavrepalanchowk district, building shelters in Kashikhanda, where almost all of the homes were badly damaged, leaving 33 families homeless. We called our project “Rebuilding Smiles.” We received financial support from the Rotary Club of Bukit Kiara Sunrise in District 3300, Malaysia, and added seven more shelters to bring the total to 40.
Just this week, we handed over another stage of our project to the community, which included:
- Building 40 more bamboo cottages in damaged areas
- Painting the shelters
- Installing a water treatment plant for 800 families in the Dalsinge area.
- Building a health clinic
- Building a library and stocking it with books
See a video of the handover program on our Facebook page and learn how you can help us.