"Water and shelter from Mission East saved our lives"

Dalli saw her house crumble when the earthquake struck Nepal last spring. The 44-year-old woman and her children had to sleep in the open until Mission East provided material for shelter and hygiene. Now the work continues to secure the future for other vulnerable families.

Dalli was working in her vegetable garden when the earth suddenly began to shake beneath her. Together with her four-year-old daughter, whom she took on her back, she climbed down the steep hillside. "I was unable to walk upright and had to crawl to a piece of flat land," she says. “It shook very heavily and I thought that everything was going to finish. My legs and my whole body was shivering with fear, and I worried much about my husband who was in the forest looking for firewood and grass for our buffalo."

The man was not found until three days later. He has since received treatment at a hospital in the capital city Kathmandu.

Was rescued in the last minute

Dalli was not the only one whose life was turned completely upside down when two powerful earthquakes hit Nepal on 25 April and 12 May 2015. Over 8,000 people lost their lives, 22,000 were injured and 2.8 million were left homeless. Sindhupalchowk district where Dalli lives, was especially hard hit. The house where Dalli lived with her husband, two children and her husband’s mother was turned into rubble. The mother-in-law was inside the house when it began to crack, but the neighbours managed to help her out of the house before it crashed completely.

Lacked clean water

Dalli and her family are Dalits, which means they are untouchables in the Hindu caste system. Therefore they did not get help from the higher castes, but had to share with families from the same caste and other minorities. And the water, which they used to fetch in a nearby stream, they could not access because of mudslides. The first week after the earthquake they lived without clean drinking water.

Tarpaulins gave new life

They also slept under the open sky until Mission East together with its partner, Medair, arrived in the village with tarpaulins, blankets, jerry cans, water purification and various hygiene articles. "The tarpaulins and blankets gave us new life. Otherwise we would have died under the open sky. The tarpaulins protecting us against sun and rain, and water purification and jerry cans helped us with drinking water during the difficult conditions," said Dalli gratefully.

Prepared for new earthquakes

The work does not stop here. A new project continues with the aim to rebuild more permanent water systems and latrines resilient to disasters in the affected villages. At the same time, people are trained in disaster risk reduction so they can reduce the impacts if another earthquake hits. It can happen anytime in the mountainous country.

About the help, she got, Dalli says: “Though I had to face a lot of damage, I am not that much worried now,” she says, adding: "I have new opportunities because I've got a water tap at my house. I got more time now to work in the vegetable garden and selling in the market”.

Shelter and sanitation

Since the devastating earthquakes last year, Mission East and partners have provided materials for shelter, hygiene and water supplies to 8,480 families in Sindhupalchowk district. Water systems and latrines have been built for 48 training centers, health clinics and community centers. The work continues. The next goal is to restore access to safe water and sanitation for another 5,000 people in the affected communities in the districts of Ramechhap and Okhaldunga where fewer organisations are present.