When the earthquake hit, Srishti was with her mother at their home close to Durbar Square, in the ancient town of Bhaktapur, near Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is one of the worst-affected areas, and many buildings have either collapsed or are severely structurally unsound. Now attending a drawing and painting workshop at the Children’s Village at Bhaktapur, Srishti draws her impression of how the earthquake felt to her.
“It felt like sitting on a swing”
Srishti’s mother, Ranjana, describes the earthquake: “I was on the top floor of my five storey house while Srishti was watching TV with her grandmother on the floor below. Initially it felt like sitting on a swing. Everything was swaying. I felt that the house would collapse and I would die. I held Srishti in my arms and ran downstairs. When I ran out it was still shaking. I came to the open ground of the college because there are narrow streets all around, and I feared houses would collapse on to the streets.”
Many buildings in Bhaktapur, Ranjana’s house among them, collapsed. This puts them among the 640,000 Nepalese households affected by shelter damage. In Bhaktapur there are now 300-400 people forced to stay at a relief camp established in the grounds of a local college.
“We have lost all hope”
Due to the sudden and severe nature of the earthquake, food in the relief camp is scarce and for the first two days Ranjana and her family had nothing to eat. Ranjana’s husband, desperate to provide for his family, climbed amongst the rubble of their house to try and find food, “I was worried about my husband’s safety when he went inside the house,” says Ranjana, “but I had to let him go because we were hungry.”
Srishti and her family are unable to return home. Her mother says: “It’s difficult to go back to our house, it has cracks all over. We don’t know what to do. My husband is a carpenter but his shop is also damaged and he cannot go back to work. We have lost all hope. We need help.”
Supporting immediate needs
We are supporting children and their families in the following ways:
- Caring for lone children: We take in and care for children separated from their families. We always seek to reunite them, but if we cannot do this, we will care for them in an SOS Children’s Village
- Child-friendly spaces: Children are offered psychological support and the chance to be children with activities such as painting, drawing and singing. 13 child-friendly spaces are up and running, and another is set to come on line in the next few days
- Emotional support: Alongside the support offered in child-friendly spaces, SOS mothers have contributed to the relief effort by listening to victims and offering them emotional support. This is an excellent example of the integrated, community-led approach that forms the heart of SOS Children’s work
- Home in a box: We are providing shelter and food to those who have lost their homes.
SOS teams across Nepal are being supported by youth volunteers. In Bhaktapur, 79 SOS youth volunteers are providing milk and biscuits for the children in the makeshift camp and members of the community bring rice, noodles and tea.
2.8 million children affected
UNICEF estimate that 2.8 million children have been affected by the earthquake and at least 940,000 will require immediate aid. We are responding to the needs of children by providing safe places for children to play and receive psychological support, children like Srishti are working through their experiences in a safe, supportive environment.
We are aiming to reach 2,000 children but, as rescue teams enter more remote and inaccessible areas, the number of children and families requiring our support will continue to rise. Nepal is reliant on the help of outside organisations in times of crisis, as our National Director in Nepal Shankar Shree Pradhananga puts it: “The Government of Nepal does not have a lot of money. It depends on organisations like SOS Children’s Villages”. We need to ensure we can meet the needs of children like Srishti and to do that we need your support.
Our approach is long-term. Nepal is a high-risk area for future earthquakes, landslides and avalanches. As we support the people of Nepal through this earthquake, we are also looking to establish a framework for the future. You can support children and their families today, and for the future, by donating to our appeal: