In March of this year, a ShelterBox Response Team returned to Nepal, 10 month’s after 2015’s devastating earthquake, to evaluate the organisation’s impact on affected communities. In-depth interviews were conducted with consenting beneficiaries to find out how ShelterBox had helped them recover from the effects of the earthquake and what we could have done better. One of the villages assisted by ShelterBox was Pipaldanda, in the badly hit, Sindhupalchowk district. All but one of the houses in the village were destroyed and families had to spend several night sleeping out in the open before help arrived.
The people of Pipaldanda were very pleased to see the ShelterBox representatives and one resident, Rajesh Sapkota, a qualified English teacher, approached the team immediately to offer help in finding families willing to be interviewed. The team was saddened to see that most people were still living in the heavy-duty UN-spec tents distributed by ShelterBox. The majority of residents were subsistence farmers with no savings and had no means to rebuild their homes, some of which had stood for hundreds of years. Many were awaiting government grants before they could start rebuilding their houses and their lives.
The residents were very approachable and open about their experiences. Many had lost loved ones in the disaster but wanted their story to be heard.
The team was humbled by the hospitality and warmth shown to them and the mood was probably best summed up by a note given to them by Rajesh before they left. Rajesh wrote:
“Hearty congratulations to the entire tent distribution team from the people of Chautura Municipality 1 (Pipaldana).
We appreciate your team. First of all we are happy/delighted with your organisation …. because your organisation had helped us in our pitiful/sorrowful condition. We never forget your kindly support in our municipality. During this period, we have no home and no power …….. we were homeless…… we were living in the open sky.”
Writing about the earthquake, Rajesh said, ” It occurred at 12.56 Nepalese time, more than 8,000 people last their lives …….. more than 21,000 people were wounded ….. it s a natural disaster no one can stop ….
More than 400 people in my community are using the tents …… we are very glad with your organisation for your unforgettable support in our pitiful circumstance …….”