An earthquake strick Nepal on 25 April, killing more than 8000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
The Caritas network is responding to meet the immediate needs of thousands of families, while also laying a foundation for a long-term, fuller recovery. In the immediate response, the Caritas network is working in the areas of shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, food and health.
Caritas has reached 100,000 people (21,000 households) with aid in the last four weeks, including 2900 households with shelter and food aid in the Kathmandu Valley; 8800 households with plastic sheeting and blankets in Kavre, Okhaldunga, Nuwakot, Rasuwa; and almost 10,000 households with shelter and clean water and sanitation kits in Ghorka.
“We are shaken but not beaten,” said Fr Pius Perumana, director of Caritas Nepal. “We shall rise as one stronger Nepal. It may take a little longer but rise we shall.”
Question and Answer with Fr Pius Perumana, director of Caritas Nepal
Q: You have seen areas that are devastated by the earthquake. What has left the most profound impression on you during your visits?
The thing that impressed me most is the resilience of the people. There is tragedy and suffering but the people haven’t lost hope. This gives me lot of encouragement and I am sure Nepal will rise again.
Some images that still remain in my mind very vivid are from 25 April, people running in all direction crying for help, houses shaking and collapsing, bodies on the street as I was coming to the office a couple of hours after the first quake.
Q: On the first Sunday after the earthquake that you presided over mass, what did message did you share with your parishioners?
In the homily of my first Mass after the earthquake I tried to exhort the people not to lose hope. To keep in mind that God is still in control. We have lost homes, relatives and friends, but He has saved us. It is for a mission, we need to go ahead, trusting in Him.
Q: There has been an outpouring of generosity by the global Caritas family. What does it mean to you to see such a collective expression of support by Catholic communities for the people of Nepal?
This is the true expression of Christian spirit, “what you do to the least of my brothers/sisters you do unto me.” I am really overwhelmed by the generosity and commitment of our brothers and sisters from across the world.
Q. Why is the Church well-positioned to respond to this crisis?
Catholic Church is well positioned in this situation because we do not have any ulterior motives – other than to help our brothers and sisters. Secondly we have the right contacts in most of these areas though our institutions, NGO friends, community organisations, cooperatives, alumni of our institutions and other friends.
Q. What do you feel Nepali families and communities would want the world to understand about their situation?
Nepalese people have received a lot of sympathy from all across the world. Still I feel what they need most is support, not only for the immediate needs, but for long term rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance – with due respect and recognition of the local wisdom and experience. And I would appreciate very much that agencies consult the people with regard to what they need before they are offered what the agencies have.