Villagers rescued from Tatopani look forward to their life

11:35 PM
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Under the tents of Capital
Villagers rescued from Tatopani look forward to their life
an open space for a night and the village had a feast.”
And she doesn’t feel the journey back
to her village is a safe one — “if it rains a
little more, the entire village will be
washed away this time”.
Pregnant mother’s owe
Amidst the crowded camps, 27-yearold Maya Thapa was searching for her
husband to go to a hospital for checkup. She doesn’t know the place or hospital, Thapa wants to follow the instructions of a doctor to do “video Xray” to ensure “the baby inside me is
safe and sound”.
When pregnant mothers are told to
take good care of their bodies, this
mother of two sons — 10 and six — who
is five months pregnant was buried up
to her chest at her home in Dry Port, on
April 25. She recalls the horrific incident, “I was watching a film along
with my friends and sons when the
tremblor began. After that I just felt my
house moving.”
Her house located at the bottom of a
hillock was hit by a landslide triggered
by the quake and the house was
“buried”. The house collapsed and “I
was buried up to my chest. I got a head
injury too. But I saw my friends and
told them to run away. My hands were
out, so I checked my two sons and
threw one of them away from that
place.” She managed to get out on her
own, carried both the children and
jumped when her “abdomen hit something”. Since then, it hurts though “doctors have told me the baby is fine”.
Her health is not good, and she just
has a pair of clothes, nothing else.
“Everything got buried, it took us so
many years to arrange these things. But
at the end we had to leave our home
without anything,” she says, her eyes
filled with tears. At times she says
she feels “no use use of being alive as
we are left with nothing at all”. But the
love for her children and company of
friends gives her hope to move on.
Gyalshi Sherpa
Sharada Adhikari
here are some 265 people
here, but are from five villages who had been living a
simple life back in their pristine villages. Yarmasingh,
Bhumachaur, Patikuna, Duguna and
Tamang villages of Tatopani VDC, Sindhupalchowk were homes to these people who grew up playing and doing
their chores there. But on May 17, with
their sad faces and lost looks, they were
just waiting — under nearly a dozen
makeshift tents in Bouddha — with a
hope to twist their destiny that suffered
devastatingly in the quake.
They are the survivors of April 25
earthquake, and the subsequent aftershocks of April 26 and May 12 with
Sindhupalchowk as the epicentre. With
every tremblor, these villages started
caving in, landslides began in the surrounding hillocks, the cracks started
widening, and their houses either collapsed or caved in. People had to leave
not only their houses, but even the
open space outside their homes.
And for many, they may sound like
just any other earthquake-hit people
who have lost their homes and families.
But their tragedy is more than that —
they have lost their villages with almost
no hopes to return there and relive
their lives.
Rays of hope
94-year-old Ratna
Bahadur Kafle
Photos: Bal Krishna Thapa/THT
my family”.
Elderly’s arduous journey
From the five-month-olds to the elderly as old as 94 years, everyone
seemed to be attempting to understand the new world they have
arrived in.
Ninety-four-year-old Ratna Bahadur
Kafle from Duguna can’t hear properly
nor remembers his age but on the secMost of them arrived in these con- ond day of his arrival in the Capital, he
gested camps of Bouddha on May 16. was walking along with his daughterSome have relatives here and some just in-law Dhamini Kafle making efforts to
know the villagers with whom they
have entered the Capital. Whatever the
reason, the objective was “to escape the
dangerous village and stay safe” which
is why 58-year-old Mingma Sherpa
from Patikuna left his village seven days
ago together with his daughter. He
doesn’t have anyone in Kathmandu,
neither clothes nor a blanket to stay
warm. Mingma, who “almost died” in
the 6.9 magnitude aftershock, left
Patikuna soon after that as “everyone
was heading to the Capital”.
Another person who came to the
Capital with no money in his pockets is
Yarmasingh’s Maite Sherpa, 62. When
many villagers had left the village after
the cracks continued widening, he
stayed back with his wife. He witnessed
the damage of Duguna. “I had been
sleeping in the smaller gadhi when the
ground trembled. I tried to hold on to
the ground but suddenly I heard some
unusual sound and the fort cracked. It
then caved in.” That was not all — landslides started from all around and the
houses collapsed.
He did not expect such a powerful
quake to strike again but May 12 shook
his confidence. Running away from his
village, Maite and other villagers spent
five nights in “comparatively safe
places before we were airlifted”.
Some people have stayed back
not willing to come, “but I came”
says Maite though he is unsure of what
he will be doing here to “look after
In the Capital
Maya Thapa
recognise the new shelter. With the duo
was Dhamini’s mother Gyalshi Sherpa,
90. It was not only difficult but very
challenging for Dhamini to rescue the
elderly from the village safely.
Gyalshi was buried in the doorway of
her house when the April 25 quake
struck. “I was outside my house but as
the earthquake struck, I tried to go inside to hold on to grains as we believe
holding grains stops earthquake.” But
before she could enter inside, the
house collapsed and she was caught in
the doorway.
The elderly shows the part of her
neck and back “that still hurts because
of the accident that day”.
As she can’t walk, Dhamini carried
her all the way to the Dry Port from
where they were airlifted to Chautara
and later came to Kathmandu. Even
her father-in-law had been suffering
from diarrhoea then.
Their condition is quite stable now
but Gyalshi and Dhamini both miss
their home. “I have four buffaloes back
in the village,” says Gyalshi with longing in eyes to see them, which as
per Dhamini “have been left in the forest in high land. Probably they will be
safe there”.
But she doesn’t know how she will
survive even though she has escaped
the earthquake. “We couldn’t harvest
wheat. Potato and maize are also all destroyed and there is no land to plant
millet. Even if we survive, there is not a
single grain for the next year. So, what
will we eat now?” questions the woman
who remembers the 1934 quake.
Pointing to a child around 10 years,
she says, “I was around his age then.
The earthquake separated hills and the
plain land then too. But nothing else
was destroyed like today. We stayed in
Making their way to the Capital hasn’t been an easy voyage yet they say
they have received a warm welcome
here. “It is a private land and may be we
will get to stay here a couple of months
at the maximum,” says Dawa Sherpa, a
Yarmasingh resident, who has been
helping these earthquake-affected villagers. Dwarika’s Welfare Foundation
has helped them with tents and other
relief materials and now they are looking for other land areas as well as “a
good shelter that can help people survive the monsoon too”.
To this another resident of Tatopani,
Sanu Sherpa says, “The villagers say if
we could spend six months here, we
would return to our village.” And they
have a positive thinking of “making our
own village if we get substantial help”.
There are still over 50 people back in
the area — “they are taking shelter at
Gumba Danda in a forest area” as per
Sanu who adds, “Some of these people
don’t want to come here leaving behind
their animals. But if they don’t come,
the government could provide relief
materials there.”
Most of them don’t know what will
happen to them next or what they will
do to survive here, but 11-year-old Sanjita Poudel, a resident of Duguna,
hopes for the best. Her house has collapsed, the school no more stands but
the Vth grader says she “wants to become a journalist one day despite all
odds” though she doesn’t know how.
Published by: International Media Network Nepal (Pvt) Ltd, APCA House, Baidya Khana Road, Anamnagar, Kathmandu, Nepal, PO Box 11651 Phone: 4770358, Fax: 977-1-4770701 / 4771959, E-mail: [email protected] Regd No 143/051/052 Postal Regd. 65-071-072 Printed at: Sama Printers (Pvt) Ltd, Sainbu VDC, Lalitpur. Editor: Prakash Rimal