Sang Temba Sherpa of Ghortali in Sindhupalchok owned a provision store at the Tatopani Liping border. The earning from the shop was enough to run his household and pay for the education of his children in a private school. But the earthquake on 25 April brought down both his house and shop, setting one challenge after another for the father of four. He has now decided to go abroad to build back his life.
“We cannot depend on relief materials forever. What will we eat once the emergency food stops coming?” asked Sherpa as he stood waiting in line outside the District Administration Office (DAO) in Sindhupalchok for documents to get his passport process started. “I know how to drive and will work as a driver abroad.” After receiving a recommendation from the DAO office, Sherpa left on a bus for Kathmandu. Sherpa’s eldest daughter, Choedon is giving her SLC exams this year and he knows he has to make extra money to pay for her college.
When Motimai Dong of Nimlung returned home last month after working in Kuwait for four years, she thought she’d never leave the country again. She wanted to get married and settle here but the quake destroyed Dong’s family house and turned to rubble whatever little they owned. Dong is once again preparing to leave for Kuwait.
She says that with her experience she can earn 100 dinars per month. “The work is easy, if they increase my salary I’ll go there. If not, I will go to Kyrgyzstan where the pay is better,” said the 25-year-old.
Teenage brothers Daulat and Dale Lama of Selang were also waiting outside the DAO for a recommendation. The brothers who were studying in Grade 10 say they have no choice but to go abroad to earn for the family.
“We have no home, the landslide destroyed our farm and we need to feed our family,” said Lama who have seven other siblings.
Although a large number of Sindhupalchok’s residents were already abroad even before the earthquake struck, the number of people applying for passports has shot up after the quake. Deputy CDO Surya Prasad Upadhyay says earlier young Janajati and Dalit men formed a majority of passport applicants, now it’s an equal mix of men from all communities.
Since the DAO resumed office on 25 May, more than 2,500 passports had been issued. It receives up to 70 forms a day and recommends 10-15 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs daily.