Nepal Earthquake One Year On

Nepali woman with shelter kit on her shoulder

Surya Maya Danwar collects a ShelterBox shelter kit following the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal last year.

 

One year ago, a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Gorkha, Nepal. The quake killed thousands of people, flattened entire villages and knocked out vital infrastructure like roads and bridges.

Despite difficulties getting into the country, a ShelterBox team arrived within two days of the quake and quickly started distributing aid from prepositioned stocks in the country.

In Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, we supplied tents for hospitals that had been badly damaged and were treating patients in the open air. Here, our tents provided much needed covered space in which to carry out minor treatments, while in rural clinics, medical staff used tents to sleep in so that they could provide round-the-clock treatment to people injured in the quake.

As we were able to transport more aid and more teams into the country, we focused our efforts on the rural mountain communities that had been worst affected by the quake. Many of the villages we helped were incredibly remote, and we had to use a mixture of trucks and helicopters to reach them.

One of these remote areas was Phataksila, home to Surya Maya Danwar. Surya was at home eating a meal when the earthquake struck. Her father-in-law was outside and shouted to her to get out of the house, but she didn’t make it in time. The roof fell in and trapped Surya. If it wasn’t for her mother and father-in-law, who rescued her, she would have died.

When Surya was able to stand again, she started searching for her son, who wasn’t at home when the quake took place. She was very worried, but thankfully her son had been in a field by the river when it happened – if he’d been at home, he might not have survived.

The family were able to salvage very little from the house, as many things were completely buried in the quake, but they created a makeshift shelter from old pieces of corrugated iron and wood.

However, Surya received a shelter kit from ShelterBox, as did all of the other families in her area. The shelter kit included heavy-duty tarpaulins and tools that can be used in a variety of ways to mend and create shelters. The family used the tarpaulin to make their shelter waterproof, which provided them with a sturdy temporary shelter before they created their new home.

Surya and ShelterBox response team member Mike Greenslade stand outside her new home.

Surya and ShelterBox Response Team member, Mike Greenslade stand outside her new home.


Surya not only used the tools included in the kit to help secure the structure, but to dig the fields. Many crops were damaged and destroyed during the earthquake, so being able to tend to the fields and start growing produce again is very important.

Along with ShelterBox equipment, people were also shown how they could use the kits to build back safer homes, that would be more resilient to future quakes.

Surya said: ‘If another earthquake happened, it wouldn’t be like before. The new shelter it safer and I wouldn’t be trapped again.’

We’ve now helped provide shelter for more than 67,000 people in Nepal since last year. However, our work never stops. Disasters and conflict around the world mean that there are families in need of shelter 365 days a year.

In Ecuador, communities have been devastated by another 7.8 magnitude earthquake – one measuring exactly the same strength as the deadly quake in Nepal.

One of our ShelterBox response teams is on the ground, facing aftershocks, landslides and blocked roads to assess the level of destruction. We are primed to provide the best possible type of aid to exactly where it is needed, but we need your help to do it. Please donate today to make sure that no family goes without shelter.

Royal Gurkha Rifles Join Forces With ShelterBox

Response team members Sallie Buck (left) and Becky Maynard (centre) work alongside Gurkha soldiers to distribute aid in Nepal

Response team members Sallie Buck (left) and Becky Maynard (centre) work alongside Gurkha soldiers to distribute aid in Nepal

 

The Royal Gurkha Rifles have helped ShelterBox to distribute shelter kits to families in extremely isolated mountain communities in Nepal.
The Gurkhas are a unique unit in the British Army with a reputation of being amongst the finest soldiers in the world. All Gurkha soldiers are recruited in Nepal, but officers are recruited from across the UK and Commonwealth.
One of our ShelterBox response teams first met the 13-man advance party from the Royal Gurkha Rifles Light Role Battalion in the township of Chautara, which is being used as an aid hub for deliveries to hard-to-reach communities.
The Gurkhas, who are incredibly experienced in working in this inhospitable terrain, offered their help to get ShelterBox aid to some of the most isolated communities in the mountainous landscape of Nepal.
ShelterBox response team member Becky Maynard said: ‘Our plan was to focus on areas that were inaccessible by vehicles, even 4 wheel drives, by creating a forward logistics hub and then visiting communities by foot.
‘In the first phase two separate recce teams visited different areas to assess the need for emergency shelter, and the potential for storage of aid, safe accommodation and a safe central distribution point in a forward hub.’
After reviewing four different sites with the support of the Nepalese Army, they decided to use a school in Taatiguan in the hard-hit area of Phatsila, as a base for aid delivery and community support.
This proved very challenging, as the second major earthquake delayed the arrival of lots of aid by 24 hours, while aid had to be transferred into smaller vehicles to make the difficult journey to Taatiguan. It took five separate journeys, which each truck being hand-loaded by the Gurkhas, ShelterBox and the Nepalese Army.
In total, shelter kits were provided to 670 families in the area of Phataksila, giving them the tools to clear rubble, to create dry shelters or to waterproof what remained of any buildings.
Fellow response team member Sallie Buck said: ‘It was a hugely challenging exercise to reach these remote communities, but by working in partnership with the Gurkhas and the Nepalese Army we overcame the numerous obstacles put in our way.’
‘The team of Gurkhas, some of whose own families had been badly affected by the disaster, were some of the warmest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of working with. Their generosity of spirit really shone through as they supported these devastated communities alongside us.’