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Rebuilding lives

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Upendra Maharjan stands on the debris of his house in Harisiddhi, with a helmet and gloves on. It’s been one week since the Gorkha earthquake devastated many parts of Nepal. Maharjan sweats in the excruciatingly hot sun as he looks at the bricks he has to clear, where his house used to once stand.

Upendra Maharjan standing on debris of his house Pic: Stéphane Huët

Upendra Maharjan standing on the debris of his house Pic: Stéphane Huët

The 40-year-old was not at home when the geography of Nepal shifted on 25 April due to the earthquake. But, unfortunately, two of his sisters and his grandmother were in his house. “My sister Soya is dead,” he says. “The other one is slightly injured and my grandmother is still waiting for surgery.”

Other villagers, like Maharjan, started digging for belonging in the debris two days after the earthquake. About 450 houses collapsed, but Maharjan still fears the ones still barely standing. “These old houses are full of cracks and we wonder when they will fall,” he says.

Habitat for Humanity came to help the people of Harisiddhi this Saturday. “We are lucky we have enough food and water here,” says Maharjan. “What we needed was the technical support to clear the rubble.”

Sushma Shrestha, program development manager at Habitat for Humanity, is coordinating the operation in Harisiddhi. “We have 120 volunteers from scout groups and youth clubs,” she told Nepali Times.

To be on the safer side, some slanting buildings of this small Newari village of Kathmandu Valley are being demolished by a bulldozer. Geno Teofilo, disaster communications manager at Habitat for Humanity, says they have been working closely with the community in this operation.

“We don’t want to throw everything away,” he says. “We will save the bricks and wood so that the community can reuse it for rebuilding.” Habitat for Humanity is also considering helping in the reconstruction process when the area is cleared. “It will depend on the funding,” Teofilo adds.

The community of Harisiddhi received help from Habitat for Humanity to clear their village Pic: Stéphane Huët

The community of Harisiddhi received help from Habitat for Humanity to clear their village Pic: Stéphane Huët

80% of the traditional houses in Harisiddhi have collapsed. Next to them, modern houses made of concrete are still standing. “These old houses made of old bricks, don’t have the structural columns and beams that would prevent them from collapsing,” explains Tripti Mahesith, architect at Habitat for Humanity.

In the narrow alleys strewn with bricks and broken wood pillars, there is a woman making a census of the remaining population. “We’ll be able to know who is missing from our village,” she says, “but there were a few here who came from outside, and we don’t even know their names.”

Stéphane Huët

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2 Responses to “Rebuilding lives”

  1. Abdala Massami on Says:

    I’m very interested to volunteer, to help people who affected,

  2. Un mois et puis s’en va - 26, rue du Labrador on Says:

    […] à faire, mais ils ont pris le temps de me raconter leur histoire. Comme ce monsieur à Harisiddhi, debout sur les débris de sa maison où sa sœur est morte ensevelie. Après avoir répondu à mes questions, il s’est […]

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