As the bulls grunted and the goats bleated loudly, Ganga, 78, hurriedly threw leaves to the hungry animals to chew on. The livestock is very important to her family, after the earthquake destroyed everything they had.
Before the earthquake, she and her son’s family were able to cope, relying on their livelihood through farming and raising animals. Ganga had a house to live in, which they built by getting a loan. Her house collapsed during the earthquake and most of her belongings were buried under the rubbles.
Ganga and her son’s family live in Dolakha, one of the Nepali districts which were severely hit by the earthquake on 25 April 2015. More than 50 000 houses were either fully or partially damaged. Landslides affected farming. Schools were damaged and children now attend classes in temporary classrooms.
“Everywhere there is sorrow and sadness. I feel it around me and I feel sad. The land, our properties are gone,” Ganga said.
Ganga used to receive help from her son. But her son has not yet recovered from the traumatic experience of the recent disaster, and the elderly grandmother has to lead the household and ensure the family’s survival. Aside from a son and his wife, she has three granddaughters and two grandsons.
After the earthquake, Ganga and her family built makeshift houses for themselves and to keep dry whatever belongings they were able to dig out from the piles of bricks and stones. Living in the temporary shelter made of local materials and covered with plastic sheeting is not easy.
“Right after the earthquake, it was very difficult for us and I feel sorry for the children, especially the girls. There was nothing to cover them, nothing to sleep in,” the grandmother said.
With the start of monsoon, Ganga’s family is exposed to more risks. But with the help extended to their community, Ganga remains hopeful that difficulties will at least be reduced.
“We are in a very challenging situation, but some people are helping us. I received some materials that will help me start build a new house,” said Ganga.
Ganga is one of the most vulnerable people in the village who received 'corrugated galvanized iron' kits from Plan International through the funding support of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). The beneficiary families were chosen based on a selection process that was conducted and verified with the community.
Through the help of her neighbours, Ganga was able to install the iron sheets, and she now feels more protected from the torrential rains that the monsoon will most likely to bring. Yet there is still a long way to go before she and her family can finally live securely in a safe house, especially as aftershocks continue to occur. She gathers strength from her family, especially from the young ones.
“Seeing my grandchildren reading and writing back in school gives me hope. I pray that they will be able to finish their education and get the jobs that they want,” said Ganga.