In April 2015 Nepal was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 7.8, resulting in 9,000 lives lost, 23,000 injured, and 450,000 displaced. Whole villages were flattened, particularly in the Gorkha district which was the epicentre of the earthquake, but it was very near Kathmandu, and many buildings there collapsed, killing those inside and leaving countless families homeless.
Aishworya was lucky. Our house remained standing, and although several children suffered minor injuries, and some heard that family members in the epicentre of the earthquake had been killed, but all the children in Aishworya were safe, if very shocked and scared.
For days after the earthquake everyone – children and adults alike – slept outside under a tarpaulin, as repeated aftershocks meant it wasn’t safe to stay indoors, and everyone was very frightened. We struggled to get food, clean drinking water, and gas for cooking.
But the children were incredibly brave, and came together as a family to care for each other and get through the disaster
When the earthquake hit, some children, Rani, Chenjen, Suman, Roshan, Roshani, Sarita, Sabina, Shanti and Ram, were visiting family in the villages at the epicentre of the earthquake, and very sadly we have not heard from several of them since.
Pramila and Barun, a trekking guide and long-time friend of Aishworya, joined an official child welfare search through Dhading, Nuwakot and Rasuwa, and heard that Chenjen and Sarita were hospitalised for a few days in Nuwakot, but no more news. Shanti was found safe but had a broken leg, and we arranged for her to come back to Kathmandu so we could take her to hospital.
We all hope and pray the children are alive and safe, and will one day return to Aishworya.
Earthquake Appeal – a huge thank you
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake we launched an appeal to raise money for the extra things we needed: medical supplies, clean water, food, wood to make a fire, and cooking gas (which had become very expensive).
Our friends and supporters responded with incredible speed and generosity –
The appeal raised a fantastic NR 727,411 (c.£4,580) which we used for emergency supplies, supporting affected members of our community, improving our facilities and taking in more children.
Thank you to everyone who supported us in this difficult time – we couldn’t have come through this without you.
The aftermath and getting our lives back together
In the wake of the earthquake, the local community here in Baluwatar, Kathmandu, pulled together and was generous in their support for the children.
They helped to comfort some of our younger children during the frequent aftershocks, and shared food with us.
As Pramila said in early May, “Everywhere you see is a disaster here but every Nepali is trying to help others as closing our eyes is not the solution.”
Aishworya has also provided shelter and support for people whose homes have been destroyed.
We took in a family with an 8 month old child; we looked after four young boys for over a month until we found their family; and we took care of a three-month old baby girl who lost her mother, until her father could come back from overseas where he was working.
Nine children orphaned by the quake have joined us permanently, including Sundary, who arrived with his head badly injured. With the help of your donations, we were able to pay for the operation he needed on his ear.
We had a volunteer with us at the time, Jenni, who stayed with us through the aftermath and was wonderful – she helped look after the children and kept everyone’s spirits up throughout – we are so grateful to her for all her help, and we will never forget that.
Gradually life returned to normal. In early June, although there were still 4-5 afterschocks a day and we were still living only on the ground floor, schools with safe buildings opened again for three hours a day. Our kids were so happy to be back at school!
Looking to the future
In August, we were visited by one of Aishworya’s very first children, Jack, who stayed with us for a week – we were thrilled to see him!
Jack’s father is dead and his mother missing. We took him in when he was found wandering the streets of Kathmandu in 2005, and when he finished school in 2012 we supported him in applying for a Nepali Citizenship Card and Passport, which allowed him to work abroad. He now lives in Saudi Arabia and is very happy to be working for a good security company and standing on his own two feet, but he will always have a home at Aishworya.
Seeing our children grow up to become kind, compassionate and independent young adults makes us very proud, and it reminds us just how important it is that Aishworya keeps taking in children like Jack, and those orphaned by the earthquake, and gives them the love and care they need to flourish.