Nepal earthquake: No home to shelter in

Thuli Lama with a foam mattress provided by CARE along with other emergency supplies

“When I felt the earth shaking on the day of earthquake, I could hear my neighbours screaming and running here and there. While everyone was either trying to get out of their house or trying to find a cover, I was struggling even to stand up.

I stood up once, but the jolt was so strong that I fell down.

“I stood up again, slowly went towards the stairs to get out of my house, but again the quake was so strong that I fell from the stairs.

“I am 72 years old, and for an old lady like me it is difficult to run fast like other people. I hurt my legs when I fell from the stairs, but somehow I managed to get out of my house.

But now I do not have a roof over my head. My house is completely destroyed, and I am sleeping in my fields without any shelter.

“The past few nights that it has rained, I’ve only had an old umbrella to shield me from the rains.

I am worried because the monsoons are about to come. How will I reconstruct my house before it starts raining all the time?

These are the words of 72-year-old Thuli Lama, one of thousands of people in Nepal who are still sleeping outside because their home was either damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. According to the Nepalese government, over 130,000 homes were destroyed and more than 85,000 partially damaged. In Thuli’s village of Nallu in Kathmandu Valley, around 90% of the homes were damaged or destroyed.

A woman outside her ruined home

A woman crosses the rubble outside an almost completely destroyed building in Nallu village

Tom Newby, CARE Shelter Advisor currently in Nepal, said:

As the monsoon season approaches, there’s a real concern that people will lose whatever assets they still have, like vital food stocks designed to get them through the winter.

The people of Nallu echo Thuli’s fears of the coming monsoons and their need for protection. Many are currently sleeping in the open with nothing but blankets or plastic sheeting to protect them. They desperately need shelter to keep not only themselves dry, but also their food stocks.

“It’s really a race against time at the moment, as the rains are steadily increasing to full-blown monsoon season in June. Strong shelter that can withstand the weather is urgently needed to prevent water-borne illnesses and protect people’s food stocks,” said Newby.

Over the next month, CARE plans to reach 30,000 people with emergency shelter kits

The kits include weather-resistant tarps, rope and a toolkit that together will help protect them from the rains as they begin to rebuild their homes. As people move towards recovery, CARE will provide the support to help people make changes to the way they build, so their homes are safer and more resilient when the next earthquake strikes.

CARE was the first aid agency to get out to Nallu village, and this was the first time that Thuli has been able to receive any aid. A few days back, the government came out to distribute tents; however, Thuli being very old could not walk the long distance to receive and carry the relief materials.

After sleeping on the ground, she was relieved to receive a mattress, rice, noodles and water purifier from CARE, to alleviate some of her suffering following last week’s earthquake.

Thuli Lama holding a sack of relief supplies

Thuli Lama with relief supplies provided by CARE

Like many people in Nepal, Thuli has no idea how she will pay for the labour to reconstruct her home. She has a cow that provides her with some income, but not enough to rebuild her home. In cases like this, CARE will provide livelihood support or cash vouchers to help accelerate people’s own rebuilding process.

Thuli told us: “I have to get protection before it starts raining. When the rains started, I lay awake the entire night under my umbrella, staring hopelessly and praying to God to put an end to this misery...

... praying that help will come soon before the rains.  

By Grishma Aryal, CARE Nepal Communications Officer, and Holly Frew, CARE emergency communications officer

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.