Nepal Earthquake: A Family’s Home Destroyed Twice in a Decade

Nepal Earthquake: A Family’s Home Destroyed Twice in a Decade

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Sanu Maya B.K from the village of Barpak, Gorkha where the Nepal earthquake epicenter was, talks about how she lost her house for the second time and her worry that the monsoon will create more landslides.

For Sanu Maya and her family in Barpak village, tragedy is a regular occurrence. Throughout her life, she has been vulnerable to different disasters that hit her village on an almost yearly basis. When she remembers all the hard work she and her son had put in to constructing her once beautiful house, tears come to her eyes; “We took a loan out to construct our home, and it took us seven years to repay it,” she recalls.

Sanu Maya lives in ward 5 of Barpak village, which is located high on the hill on very steep terraces. While the village has spectacular views of the hills of Gorkha, it is also prone to landslides, which is exactly what happened to Sanu just over 6 years ago. “A few years back my house fell off the cliff as there was a landslide,” she says. “All the hard work that I had put in to constructing my house was lost. At that time I did not have a roof over my head, and it took me almost 6 months to reconstruct my house again.”

Crippled by debt her son was forced to go abroad to work in order to repay the original loan they had taken out to construct their home. On 25 April disaster struck Sanu again. “We lost almost everything we had [after the first landslide]. But somehow, we managed to rebuild our house…but then the earthquake on 25 April destroyed it once again.”

Once again Sanu has to try and recover what she can from the wreckage and start the long and arduous process of trying to build back her home. “Right now we are constructing a temporary house made up of our old bamboo poles and iron sheets that we were able to take from the rubble” she says. “But the iron sheets we have are old and it leaks whenever it rains. I am worried that these old iron sheets won’t be able to protect us from the monsoon rains. I don’t know where we will live if we do not get good materials for constructing our shelter. We have lost everything including our food and utensils. In previous years whenever we had monsoons we used to stock our food and prepare ourselves from any adversities. But in this earthquake we have nothing to stock,” she adds.

CARE has now begun distributing iron sheeting and bamboo poles to communities, including Sanu’s, across Gorkha district to help them build temporary, but durable, shelters that can withstand the monsoon rains for the next three months. They are also providing technical guidance as families begin to try to build back their homes to make sure that they are more resistant to future earthquakes and the same thing does not happen again.

As CARE shelter expert Amelia Rule notes, there are many simple easy ways for people to build back safer that don't involve changing traditional building methods; “Small things like making sure people run stones through the center of their walls as well as just stacking them can make a big difference in strengthening the foundations of homes” she says.

For those such as Sanu who have lived through years of monsoon landslides it remains a real worry. “I am worried that the monsoon will cause landslides in village this year as the ground has already cracked. I hope we do not lose this shelter again,” she says.


A woman sits in front of salvaged stones that will be used to rebuild people's destroyed homes in Mandre village, Gorkha. © 2015 Lucy Beck/CARE