Quake-affected share personal stories of coping with tragedy

Sarita Shrestha’s voice was brittle. It was apparent that she was fighting hard not to break down in front of a mass, but once the first tear drop rolled down her cheek, she sobbed for some time on the microphone, before announcing that it was too hard on her recalling the tragedy that befell her when the devastating earthquake struck in April 25 last year. The crowd that had gathered to listen to her story was quiet, touched by the tragic story of Shrestha.

Shrestha was sharing her experience during a discussion session ‘Coping with the tragedy one year after the Nepal earthquake’, part of an event People Awareness Campaign on Disaster Risk Reduction, Economic Prosperity and Sustainability of Mahalaxmi Municipality, jointly organized by DCA, and Friends’ Service Council Nepal and Mahalaxmi Municipality – DCA’s local partner in Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts respectively.

Shrestha, 55, was buried under the rubble of her house along with her son and daughter. She was rescued about half an hour later by her neighbors. When she came back to her senses, she was bereaved of both her children, the tragedy she is still struggling to come to terms with one year after the earthquake.

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. The old couple are currently staying in a single room, constructed with the support of their son’s employer and DCA’s cash for shelter program.

Shrestha was one of the few willing participants sharing her loss, her struggle in coping with it, and current situation and future prospects.

“The government has fallen short in responding to the earthquake survivors. The past one year was marred with shortcomings. From now on, the focus should be on securing sustainable livelihood and rehabilitation program for the affected people,” he said.

As part of the event, different earthquake-themed awareness programs were organized, 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 to work in coordination with the 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 programs. We’ll continue our support in close coordination with local authorities and agencies in the days to come,” he said.

– Published in: Setopati