15-21 April 2016 #804

A year of living dangerously

Paul Jeffrey

As the first anniversary of the 25 April earthquake approaches, Dil Bahadur Maharjan remembers the day with dread. How a neighbour’s multi-storey house fell on top of his, completely destroying it. He also can’t believe how quickly the past year has gone by – a year of hardships for his family of five crammed into a small room in the premises of a local school without water or electricity.

Maharjan is a security guard, and most of his meagre income goes to buying food and paying school fees for his two sons. One would expect someone in Maharjan’s position to be full of bitterness and anger. But he counts his blessings, and says at least no one in his family was harmed.

He is disappointed that the government hasn’t done more to expedite the Rs 200,000 rebuilding grant, but then he didn’t expect much from the state. Prime Minister K P Oli came to Bungamati in January to inaugurate the government’s reconstruction drive, but not much has happened since. So, like the estimated 2.5 million earthquake survivors across Central Nepal, he is making do the best he can. Maharjan’s wife has found a job in elderly care, and that has supplemented the family income.

The family had invested all their savings into the new home three years ago, and Maharjan proudly shows a picture of it. None of his family members were home when it was buried under the neighbour’s house. “It pierced through our home like a bull’s horn, leaving us with nothing. Everything was gone,”

Maharjan recalled, saying he wished the government would hurry up with the building grant. “With the 200,000 I could at least rebuild one floor.”

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