Reaching marginalised communities in quake-hit Nepal

A child outside his home in Sindhuli district. Photo by Prakash Khadka, Caritas Nepal

A child outside his home in Sindhuli district. Photo by Prakash Khadka, Caritas Nepal

The drive took more than 10 hours, and wove through fallen trees in a sub-tropical forest, crossing several river valleys. Here in Sindhuli district, Caritas teams are responding to areas so remote that communities living here have largely been unreached by humanitarian assistance.

Caritas teams, in close coordination with the District Disaster Relief Committee, were traveling to the remote Hariharpurgadhi village, home to the Tamang people—a community long marginalised.

The conditions are so basic here that people feared the riverside dirt track would be flooded with even lightest of rains before Caritas or other humanitarian agencies would be able to reach them with help.

“Villagers were requesting us to hurry up in pleading voice, otherwise once it rain, all the supplies will be out of access for them due to the flash floods and landslides which could block the road,” said Nagdev Yadev, a local volunteer to Caritas response team.

Because most of the houses in Hariharpurgadhi were cracked, a majority of people were living in the barns that typically housed their cattle.

Kanchimaya Rumba was among them. Rumba has 11 family members she is responsible to feed and it has been nearly impossible to gather food since the earthquake. Like most women in her village, the closest market now requires an all-day journey to reach—four hours on foot, and another four with the local bus. Her gratitude for Caritas’ support of shelter materials and food was visible—not only for the supplies, but for the effort to support those in need without regard to politics, religion or ethnic affiliation.

“Every needy family is receiving help as per the criteria. We are treated equally,” Rumba said.

Caritas also met with Charimaya Waiba, 30, a street shopkeeper in Bauddha, Kathmandu city but who is from Hariharpurgadhi, and who returned to the village after the earthquake to find her house totally collapsed. Like Rumba, she and her family are now living in a barn. But Charimaya had stored grains at home, and she quickly and generously shared them with others in the village.

“This is an emergency situation. I shared food I had with other villagers before you, Caritas, came to help us,” said Waiba.

Waiba is like many people who express high concerns and fear about the impending monsoon, and what it will mean in terms of their living conditions—including the need for roofing to protect from the torrential rains—and access to relief. The questions come often to Caritas teams on the ground as to what will be available to them.

Caritas Nepal teams continue to work with utmost dedication and commitment, and in extremely arduous conditions, to reach communities like Rumba and Waiba’s with essential supplies ahead of the monsoons, and will be returning with transitional shelter items, like corrugated iron sheeting for roofing, in the coming weeks.

Ours is a commitment that does not have an end date. For the past 25 years, Caritas Nepal has supported communities in need across 80 percent of the country, prioritising support for the most impoverished and marginalized. With the help of the Caritas Internationalis community, Caritas Nepal is extending its outreach to those affected by April’s catastrophic earthquake, and we will continue to work alongside communities in their recovery.

 

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