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Nepal: A Grandmother's hope

In Dolakha, one of the districts worst affected by the April and May earthquakes in Nepal, up to 90% of the houses were destroyed or damaged beyond use. Families lost everything they had. About three months after the devastating earthquakes hit, with people still living in makeshift houses and the monsoon season approaching, providing shelter to those affected is an immediate priority. With funds from the European Commission, Plan International has been distributing shelter kits for the most vulnerable households in the region.

Ganga's story

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 was able to manage, making their livelihood through farming and raising animals. She 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.

The elderly grandmother feeds the buffalos. The livestock is important for her struggling family.

Everywhere there was sorrow and sadness.

Ganga and her son’s family live in Dolakha, one of the districts that was severely-hit by the earthquake that hit Nepal in 25 April 2015. More than 50,000 houses were either fully or partially damaged. Landslides affected farming. Children have to attend classes in temporary classrooms after the earthquake damaged the schools.

“Everywhere there was sorrow and sadness. I feel it around me and I feel sad. The land, our properties were already gone,” Ganga said.

Ganga used to have her son helping her. But her son has not yet recovered from the traumatic experience of the disaster, and the elderly grandmother has to lead and ensure the family’s survival. Aside from her son and his wife, she has three granddaughters and two grandsons.

After the earthquake, Ganga and her family made makeshift houses to protect them from the elements and keep dry whatever belongings they were able to dig out from beneath the piles of bricks and stones. Living in the temporary shelter made of local materials and covered with plastic sheeting is not easy.

Ganga inside her makeshift house covered with plastic sheeting for protection.

“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.

 I received some materials that will help me start build a house.

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 helped. I received some materials that will help me start build a house,” said Ganga.

Ganga is one of the most vulnerable people in the village that received CGI kits from Plan International through the funding support of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). The families were chosen based on a selection process that was conducted and verified with the community.

Ganga with some neighbors in the house she has started to build using the CGI sheets she received.

Seeing my grandchildren reading and writing back in school gives me hope.

Through the help of neighbors, Ganga was able to install the CGI sheets and she 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 they can finally live securely in a safe house and in the community, 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.


This story was first published on the website of the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Commission.

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For more information about the work of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Directorate General, please click here.