Thoughts from Nepal: Trying to remember what normal feels like

Compiled for AJ+ on Medium


A collapsed house is pictured after the April 25 earthquake in Kathmandu May 10, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

“It just feels like Nepal has been hit by a huge nuclear bomb, like this town has been haunted and people are afraid to enter their homes. Children have stopped playing and all I can hear is the echo of “ayo ayo” (earthquake is here). We have been sleeping on the streets for last two days after the second earthquake on May 12.

People are living in fear every moment. Their livelihood has been destroyed, homes shattered multiple times with two big quakes.

It’s amazing to see youth mobilizing in the thousands to restore their nation.

Where there’s no government [assistance] there are youths mobilizing and bringing supplies, food, blankets and compassion to the villages.”

— Nisha Thapa, San Francisco resident and executive director of Sahayeta

“‘Hare hare jane ka hola hari, jane ka hola?(Where should I go God, where?)’ These are the words of a Nepali song I hear every evening from an old soul sitting in the porch area of her house. Struggling for food, shelter and life is what I heard before coming to Nepal in this catastrophic time. It is an irony that the same face on which you see a fear of death and pain of a lost house is the the same face with a sense of hope and confidence.”

— Mohit Raj, social worker from India currently in Nepal for relief operation with Sahayeta

A Nepalese woman stands on a landslide area after the April 25 earthquake at Jure village in Sindhupalchowk, Nepal, May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

“The aftershocks have not let the people be normal. Each and everyone is in trauma and fear. Almost everyone is out in the open space. Their homes have been their enemy.

Its chaotic on the ground. People are scared to death. Even a loud noise makes people panic.

Hence the schools have been closed and will be closed for [a] couple of weeks more if things gradually get normal. The weather has not been favorable. The rain is there every now-and-then with thunderstorms making life more vulnerable. It seems the monsoon is around the corner.

Addressing and attending the people in the remote part is the biggest challenge. Its not only the earthquake but the landslides are another major risk in the hilly parts. People in the remote areas have started rebuilding on their own as the government has been slow in reaching these places.”

— Nirvik Pradhan, 34, Nepali citizen from Bafal, Kathmandu

“The people were returning to normalcy after the first quake, but after the second quake they are living in constant fear. Many people have left the Kathmandu Valley for their homes. The usually jam-packed roads have very few vehicles. Many shops are closed. However, everything is returning to normal slowly.

Some of the places which are linked by roads have got more relief materials than needed. But some places have not been reached. In some of the places, the dead bodies are still lying in the rubble and have started stinking.”

— Sanjib Chaudhary, communications professional, Kathmandu

Framed pictures are seen hanging from the wall of a house damaged by earthquakes in Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal, May 13, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

“Today, it’s May 15, and we are still feeling the tremors and people are still camping out in open areas and on the streets.

Fear has taken over the country and Kathmandu. The capital has seen a major exodus. Lots of migrant workers have gone back to their homes to help in relief and non-nationals have gone back to their respective countries. Schools are closed until May 29 and people are avoiding crowded areas and high-rise buildings. Speculation of [another] big one is rife and children have been some of the hardest hit due to psychological trauma.

The main challenge is to go back to normalcy.

As of now, the immediate need is for medium and long-term housing… the need of the hour is a permanent roof over their heads.

— Samyak Udas, 36, Nepali citizen, Kathmandu

*Perspectives edited for length and clarity

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