In certain village development communities (VDCs) in Dolakha district, Plan Interntional has been the first organization to deliver winter materials to families.
Toting a one-year-old baby on her back, Sunita patiently waits for household material that will support her family of six. “After the earthquake, there was no material or equipment to resettle. My family and I have been living together in a plastic tent – we lost everything,” she says.
“This is the first time I am receiving any sort of support since the earthquake,” Sunita says.
In recent weeks, Plan International has supported more than 1,000 families to stay warm and prepare for the winter season through the delivery of sleeping mats and blankets.
Plan International aims to support more than 16,000 families (nearly 80,000 individuals) living in altitudes between 1,500 – 2,500 meters to prepare for the winter through the distribution of materials such as winter clothing, fuel-efficient cooking stoves, solar lamps and shelter insulation material.
In many areas, temperatures will reach below freezing, peaking to -10 C and lasting until March 2016. These are families living in isolated, mountainous areas – often cut off from humanitarian support.
“I had nothing to keep my child warm while she was sleeping,” says Kamala from northern Dolakha district, a mountainous area heavily devastated by the April and May earthquakes.
“My small child is suffering from a cold and a fever and was coughing all night. This is the result of our devastation. The earthquake has left us homeless, foodless and without clothes,” Kamala says.
Kamala belongs to a small family of three. She makes a living working on the farmlands near her home. In some ways, she considers herself lucky to belong to a small family: there are fewer mouths to feed.
“I worry about my child’s health and how to keep her warm at night.
"Without a suitable income, I have not been able to think about a warm bed," says Kamala.
Kamala is one of hundreds of families who recently received bed mattresses and warm clothes to prepare for the harsh winter season. Living in high-altitude areas, Kamala’s family will be forced to endure freezing temperatures while living in temporary shelters made up of tarpaulin and iron sheets.
“The mattress support is helping us to fight against the winter season. Receiving a mattress from Plan International will allow my family to stay warm as we share this mattress. It also keeps us safe.”
“Even a mattress supports my son’s education. In the morning and evening, he is now more inclined to do his homework in his warm bed. He sleeps all night and is more rested at school. Before, the cold winter affected our family very badly,” says Kamala.
“These winter items will keep children healthy and help ensure that they are able to continue their studies. Often, children are absent from school during the winter period due to their poor health. The sleeping mats and household items will keep children warm and rested, enabling them to remain healthy and attend school,” says Chandra Kayastha, Dolakha Area Manager for Plan International Nepal.
“We have faced winter in the past, but at that time our home was warm and cozy. Due to the earthquake, we do not have a home and now winter has started,” explains Sita.
“The support from Plan International has made life a bit easier. I was planning to use my torn blankets and quilt to survive the winter, because I did not have money to purchase my own materials,” she says.
Sita’s family is already suffering from winter-related illnesses. She worries that she will not have enough money for medical checkups.
In addition to household items, Plan International is working to deliver insulation materials to temporary schools, enabling thousands of children to learn in a comfortable environment even during winter.
Children tend to be the most vulnerable in severe weather conditions and may stop going to school if their schools are not equipped to handle the freezing temperatures.
Learn more about Plan International's efforts in Nepal following the 2015 earthquakes.