I want to record what I saw in Sindhupalchowk, one of the hardest hit districts by 2015 earthquakes. Along with Natasha, a MFN volunteer, I went to Gunsa village of Sindhupalchowk on Dec 17th, 2016 to spread health rights information (https://www.facebook.com/medicationforNepal/?fref=ts/) to the Teach for Nepal (TFN) fellows. Via them, the information will reach 4000 students and their families.
Gunsa sits at 2700 meters, ears do pop as you travel to that place. While the work I set out to do went very well there was something massive tugging at my heart. This is the blog about what I saw, and the way people live and what they don’t have.
The earthquake has taken its toll on people both mentally and emotionally. Many of them still are living in temporary shelters made of CGI sheets. It has been over a year and half, and there has not been a single house constructed. One of the person I spoke to at a tea-house complained, “No, we haven’t received any of the promised resources from anyone to build a proper house”. He said ,Natasha and I were the first people who went there to do any kind of health related survey or information in his village. Very surprising – this is Sindhupalchowk – one of the hardest hit area by earthquake.
Most of the remote villages of Nepal is probably similar to Gunsa. There weren’t any young men and women around. The villagers were either children, women, or elderly citizens. When I asked a local why there weren’t young adults around, he claimed that most of them had gone to the city or to foreign countries to support their families back home. He even added that his neighbor, a young woman, had recently died of an unknown cause working in Oman, just 15 days after her departure from the village. Such stories have now become a part of daily life in Gunsa. I wonder what happens to those people, and how much they earn overseas. I didn’t see the remittance money in the village. Children didn’t have proper clothing for the winter. Kids as young as two or three were running around with no slippers, no socks, no hats, in shorts and two layers of thin clothes for the upper body. The temperature is about 6 degrees Celsius (42.8 Fahrenheit) can easily make you cramp and sick. With the temperature that harsh the kids are vulnerable to many diseases. The children were bare chested in the foggy morning of Gunsa. In our three day stay at that place most of the children had runny nose all day long, dried up nasal discharge around their nose and mouth. They are in grave danger of suffering from major health related diseases in the years to come. As an adult and an outsider in that village we were tucked up in the warmest clothes, boots, caps and every other possible gears to protect ourselves from the very cold weather. It is difficult to even imagine walking on the road where you get hit by chilling cold breeze continuously.
A local claimed that the earthquake took 46 lives, among which few of them were her own relatives. Not only children the adults in Gunsa have poor clothing. The cold has crept up and they are struggling to keep themselves warm. During the day, most of the locals keep themselves busy with farming and household chores while the others have opened up grocery shops and tea shops.
I want to urge organizations working in winterization, clothes drive to take a look at this village. They need your help, and we need to go to our wardrobes and see what we haven’t used but are just attached. These clothes will provide massive support to the children here.