1-7 January 2016 #789

Sick of the cold

Families who survived the earthquake are now fighting the winter chill


On a freezing morning last week, 65-year-old Sanman Majhi woke up before dawn and left his tin hut to collect firewood. His tattered clothes did not protect him from the biting cold, he was found lying unconscious on a frost-covered field nearby.  

Majhi’s oldest son, Purna, was woken up and rushed to the spot to find some villagers trying unsuccessfully to revive his father.

“He was not dead, and we rushed him to Dhulikhel Hospital but he died on the way,” Purna recalls. While Purna is mourning his father’s death, his ailing mother, 55-year-old Sani Majhi, is suffering from cough and a chest infection. “It’s so cold here, and it is cold inside the shelter even with a fire, my mother is sick but I cannot help her,” Purna says.

After their house was destroyed by the earthquake eight months ago, the Majhi family has been living inside a temporary shelter built from wooden poles, planks and tin sheets that they salvaged from the rubble. “Life was hard in the shelter,” he says. “The cold has made it much harder.”

Rewati Thapa, a midwife at the Thokarpa Health Post says two newborns have died here this month probably due to cold. She says: "After winter set in, the inflow of patients has gone up and we don't have enough medicines."

In Kalika village of Sindhupalchok, where the earthquake killed more people and destroyed more houses than anywhere else, nearly 700 families have been living in shelters for eight months. When they wake up, their mattresses and clothes are soaked with condensation from the corrugated roof.

With the National Reconstruction Authority delayed, the government promised Rs 10,000 for each homeless family to buy warm clothes. But this grant has not been distributed in Kalika.  

Read also:

Homeless in winter, Om Astha Rai

Winter emergency for quake survivors, Kunda Dixit

Multiple trouble, Sahina Shrestha

Sindhupalchok’s sorrow, Bhrikuti Rai

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