Grieving for lost loved ones in Nepal

20 May 2015   |   Blog   |   Nepal   |   Emergency Relief

Tags:  natural disaster, earthquake, emergency response   |   No comments

When the second earthquake struck Nepal, things changed dramatically. It went from shops being open again, and people getting back to normal, to panic: people in the streets, clearly traumatized. People are sleeping outside, and many shops remain closed. There was this sense that “this wasn’t going to happen again,” and it did. At a time when there was already so much recovery to be done, the second quake only heightened people’s anxieties and sense of fear.

Thankfully, Caritas has been able to continue delivering emergency assistance to communities hard hit, providing thousands of people with the support they vitally need throughout these difficult times.

Stefan Teplan from Caritas Germany shares his experience of meeting a survivor from the first earthquake, and the glimpse of hope that Caritas provides.

Ramjandra from Gorkha

Ramjandra is unable to talk to me. His brother Mekh Badur tells me his story. Whenever Ramjandra tries to add something he bursts into tears...."

It took one minute to shatter Ramjandra’s life. The minute was 11:56 on Saturday 25 April 2015. It was the minute when the biggest earthquake for 92 years hit Nepal. It was the minute he lost his wife and only child. It’s a minute that for Ramjandra will last forever.

The 26 year-old agricultural worker was in his house in the district of Ghorka, just about 30 kms away from the quake’s epicenter. It was lunchtime and the family was just about to have some food.

Suddenly, Ramjandra felt the floor move under his feet and saw the bulb on the ceiling swinging to and fro. “Run”, he shouted, “get out of the house as quick as you can.”

And that was what he did, expecting his wife Surasathi and three-year-old daughter Reshma to follow him. He was a few seconds faster. As Ramjandra escaped into the open air, the house collapsed. Surasathi and Ramesh could not reach the front do or in time. They died under the rubble.

Ramjandra is unable to talk to me. His brother Mekh Badur tells me his story. Whenever Ramjandra tries to add something he bursts into tears. There are moments when a journalist has to stop asking questions.

I can only express compassion and try to bring some hope into this tragic situation. I tell him the reasons why I am in the village, together with Anjan Baj, head of the Disaster Management of Caritas India, part of the international Caritas disaster response in Nepal.

Ramjandra has never heard of Caritas but I notice how the look in his eyes changes. You cannot expect a man who has just lost his family, his house and his property to smile. But a slight glimpse of hope is visible in his face when we explain what Caritas stands for and will do for the affected people.

After big disasters like this, Caritas helps reconstruct houses for people in need, we say. Caritas is caring for the livelihood of earthquake victims. Caritas is counselling the bereaved. “Thank you”, he says in a quiet voice. More he cannot say at this moment. We understand. It is still the time of mourning.

Emergency relief distribution

An update on the Caritas response

The international Caritas family has been providing emergency relief for people devastated by the earthquakes in Nepal, and particularly working to reach some of the hardest hit areas.

We have already helped over 129,000 people with temporary shelter supplies which include tarpaulins, plastic mats and blankets and kits for clean water and hygiene care in Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Nuwakot, Dhading, Kavrepalanchowk, Okhaldhunga, Rasuwa, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.

With the support of the international Caritas network including Caritas Australia, Caritas Nepal will reach over 175,000 people with much needed shelter, water and hygiene kits within the first two months of the earthquake.

While the Caritas network is responding to the immediate needs of thousands of families, we are also laying a foundation for the long-term recovery program that will help communities rebuild their lives and livelihoods

Learn more about the Nepal Emergency Response

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