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Watch: All We Can’s Nick Burn outlines how partners are responding to the earthquake
Sapana Shrestha, aged 26, lives in Chyangli, a village in the Gorkha District of northern-central Nepal.On the day of the 25 April earthquake, she recalls, “I was sitting in home doing some housework and my children were playing around me. Suddenly the land was moving rapidly, I didn’t know what was happening. The children were frightened. I stood under the door and I became very nervous. I did not think I would be safe from the earthquake. After a long time the earthquake stopped a little bit and then I ran to a public place with my two little sons.
The walls of my home started to fall down. While we were sitting in the open public place my home totally collapsed. I was very shocked; I couldn’t bring out any equipment from my home. Only on the second day did we start to search for food, clothes, mobile phones and other materials from our collapsed home.
When ERDCN provided a tent and mats we were very happy, as now we can save our family, food, clothes and other materials. We thank ERDCN for visiting our home and community, listening to our painful experiences, and providing some relief materials along with counselling, sympathy and motivation.”
As well as distributing food and emergency shelter materials, All We Can is supporting its partner Kopila Nepal to use its expertise to help people deal with the emotional impact of the earthquake through providing trauma counselling.
Kopila Nepal’s Director, Bina Silwal, explains the need for this work: “It was a severe time after the earthquake. Everybody was scared, people were crying, people were not eating, people were not doing anything. It was like they had lost consciousness. As a counsellor, someone trained in psychology, I could see that there would be post-traumatic stress. It is very hard to say exactly what the mental health impact will be, but the challenges will be big.”
In response, All We Can is supporting Kopila to deliver a programme to improve psychosocial well-being in children through school based interventions, funding the creation of materials that can be distributed to inform people of the psychological support available and will be employing and training counsellors to reach people who have lost loved ones, homes or both. Since the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 there has been an increasing recognition of the need for psychosocial responses after large disasters. Most experts agree that the best placed to deal with these responses are local organisations that not only have the correct training, but understand local cultural practices and ways of dealing with grief. Kopila Nepal are ideally placed as an organisation with both professional expertise, but also a deep knowledge of the local people and customs.
Looking ahead, All We Can is working with its experienced international humanitarian response partners to identify the best ways to support recovery and rebuilding. There have already been uncharacteristic rains in Nepal in the last month with thunderstorms bringing heavy downpours. When the monsoon season arrives this month it will make access to many places extremely difficult, as dirt roads deteriorate and helicopters are unable to fly. One tarpaulin will no longer be enough to provide larger families with decent shelter, so even though thousands have already been distributed, more will be needed. Rains may also cause landslides where hillsides have been weakened. It is likely that for people living in inaccessible villages, camps will be set up in village centres so that they can be fed and provided with other services more easily. There are still thousands of people in Nepal living in temporary shelters, and with some villages losing every house to the earthquake, the need to focus on rebuilding is clear.
Maurice Adams, Chief Executive of All We Can, commented: “Out of the turmoil of these earthquakes have emerged stories of courage, generosity and compassion, both in Nepal and here in Britain. The response from All We Can supporters has been humbling and enabled our partners to respond rapidly to meet many immediate needs. There is no quick fix for a situation like the one faced by communities affected by the earthquakes in Nepal, but All We Can will be walking alongside our partners every step of the way as they begin the slow road to recovery. On behalf of those partners, and the vulnerable individuals they are supporting, I want to express heartfelt thanks for every donation given so far to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal. It really has made a difference.”
Laura works for All We Can as the Communications Manager. She is also an internationally acclaimed photographer with a passion for women's rights. She is studying MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies in her spare time and lives with her husband Stephen in Essex.