Recalling the 1934 Earthquake
1 Oct 2015 | Blog | Nepal | Emergency Relief
By Prakash Khadka, Caritas Nepal
Bal Bahadur Budhathoki is 96 years old and has experienced two of the biggest earthquakes in the history of Nepal. Caritas Nepal staff met him during a visit to Thokarpa in Sindhupalchowk soon after the devastating earthquake which struck Nepal earlier this year. He animatedly shared his memories of the 1934 earthquake with us.
He was about 14 years old when the previous earthquake struck Nepal. He still remembers he was grazing cattle, and sitting under the hog plum (Lapsi fruit) tree which still exists in his field today.
"It was in the middle of the day, around 2pm, when one Lapsi fell on my head. Quickly I jumped to pick it up and eat it. Immediately after that they started to fall everywhere. Without any delay I tried to collect them in my jumper, but I fell down. I then saw dust over the hills and I knew it was an earthquake," he remembered.
According to his description, the previous earthquake shook ‘to and fro’ which created equal pressure on both sides of the house. But this more recent earthquake was one-sided, which caused more destruction.
He fears the 2015 earthquake is more devastating than that of 1934. “We only stayed out of our home for three nights then. But this time, it’s been one month, it kept coming…,” he added.
Bal Bahadur has twenty-five grandchildren and some of them have been staying out in the field with him. He is the only man at home at the moment, as his sons are in Malaysia and Kathmandu, and his daughters are married. One of his grown-up grandsons had returned to build a cottage of old corrugated iron sheeting, but he has already returned home now.
Bal Bahadur believes money has no value in such disasters, as supplies and services are hard to obtain. Back in 1934, he had no thought of being able to receive emergency support. But this time, he and his family have received food and non-food items from Caritas.
"It’s been a great help; at least we are saved from the rain. And food you gave - we cook it outside and sleep inside the tent with the blanket,” said the Bal Bahadur and his wife. His wife is 80 year old and is still very active. She walked almost an hour to help carry emergency supplies for the family.
We met Bal Bahadur and his family during our house visits in Thokarpa. He and his wife were so thankful towards Caritas, they said it felt as though their own children had come to visit them during this time of difficulty.
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