Apr 23, 2016- Sarita Shrestha’s voice was brittle. It was apparent that she was fighting hard not to break down in mass but once the first tear drop rolled down her cheek, she sobbed for some time on the microphone, before announcing it was too hard for her recalling the tragedy befallen upon her during last year’s devastating earthquake. Moved by her tragic tale she went through, the crowd became silent as they listened to her tale.
Shrestha was sharing her experience of ‘coping with the tragedy one year after the Nepal earthquake’ during a discussion session of the event: People Awareness Campaign on Disaster Risk Reduction, Economic Prosperity and Sustainability of Mahalaxmi Municipality – the event jointly organised by DCA, its local partner in Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts Friends’ Service Council Nepal and Mahalaxmi Municipality.
Shrestha, 55, was buried under the rubble of her house, along with her son and daughter. She was rescued about half an hour by her neighbours. When she regained her consciousness, she was bereaved of both of her children – the tragedy that makes her miserable.
Life was never the same for Shrestha after the earthquake. Her son was the sole breadwinner of the family. Her husband is deaf and physically weak to earn a living.
The old couple is currently staying in a single room, constructed with the support of their son’s office and DCA’s cash for shelter programme.
Shrestha was one of the few willing participants sharing her loss, struggle in coping with it, current situation and future prospects.
The discussion, facilitated by DCA, was attended by locals, representative from the municipality, Member of Parliament from the region Siddhi Lal Singh, former parliamentarians, local development organisations, private institutions and educational institutions, among others.
Following the experience sharing session, Member of Parliament Singh said that there is much to be done for the earthquake victims.
“The government has fallen short in responding to the earthquake. The past one year was marred by shortcomings. The focus from now on should be towards securing sustainable livelihood and rehabilitation program for the affected people,” he said.
As part of the event, different earthquake-themed awareness programms were organised, including street drama and folk songs, presentation on DRR and safe housing, disaster first aid, hygiene promotions, blood donation, water purification techniques and psychological awareness.
DCA’s Earthquake Emergency Project Team Leader Andrew Pearlman said that DCA will continue working in coordination with local authority and agencies under its earthquake project.
“DCA responded to the earthquake within 24 hour, delivering food baskets, installing mass kitchens, providing first aid and hygiene kits. It has been supporting thousands of people through cash, shelter, WASH, psychosocial, DRR and hygiene promotion programmes. We will continue our support in close coordination with local authorities and agencies in the days to come,” he said.
Published in Kathmandu Post