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A sliver of hope in the aftermath of disaster

A sliver of hope in the aftermath of disaster

CCFC helps people in Sindhupalchowk, Nepal following two earthquakes this past spring

By Philip Tanner
CCFC’s director, Programs & Strategic Initiatives

SINDHUPALCHOWK DISTRICT, Nepal — As winter sets in, the biting cold permeates the temporary shelters hastily constructed in Sindhupalchowk, Nepal following two earthquakes this past April and May. The people recovered a few meagre belongings, and now they pray for assistance from the government and humanitarian-aid agencies such as Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC).

The stories of heartache are everywhere. “The earthquake in April 2015 took our home and much of our personal belongings,” recalls Ramri Maya Shrestha who has four daughters between the ages of four and 18. “Life was hard, and we slept outside until we could build a temporary shelter from supplies we took from the debris.”

Today the Shrestha family lives beside their destroyed home, waiting for support from wherever it may come. Before the earthquake, Ramri and her husband, Tirta Bahadu, harvested enough rice, maize, millet and wheat to feed their family for six months. For the rest of the year, Tirta worked as a day-labourer in Kathmandu, sending money home to his family.

So, after the earthquake, the Shresthas needed a source of income, and a gift they were given this summer has helped. “We received four female goats and one male goat,” says Ramri of the livestock that was provided by Ontario’s Uxbridge Chapter of the Rotary Club of Canada, through CCFC. “We plan to sell the male goat in six months. This sale will allow my husband to stay home [instead of going] to Kathmandu. I’m pregnant, so that’s good.”

Within two years, the family hopes to double their herd and earn approximately 36,000 rupees ($735) per year — more than what Tirta made in Kathmandu after six months of work as a day labourer.

But, multi-faceted aid is still important for families like the Shresthas. CCFC has joined with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (now Global Affairs Canada), the aforementioned Rotary Club and partners from ChildFund Alliance, with which CCFC is a member, to provide assistance to nearly 12,000 families. The aid has led to the creation of temporary learning spaces in 32 schools; established 16 child-friendly spaces for children to play and receive psycho-social support; led to the distribution of supplies, uniforms and study materials, benefiting more than 5,000 students at 45 schools; provided more than 400 supply kits to help teachers keep classes running; and led to the distribution of recreation kits filled with sports materials and other play supplies.

This helps, but it will be a difficult road ahead for more than a thousand families in Sindhupalchowk who will struggle to keep warm through a cold winter in the mountains. The good news is they anticipate a brighter future where they will be supported in rebuilding their homes, lives and dignity.

Starting over: (above) Earthquakes that ravaged Nepal in in April and May have had long-term effects

Photo by Philip Maher