The Nepal earthquake: one year on

Khrishna

April 25 will be a difficult day for the people of Nepal – the first anniversary of the earthquake that claimed more than 9,000 lives and left many more people injured, homeless and without livelihoods.

For people with leprosy, who are often living with the additional challenges of disability and extreme poverty, the earthquake was a particularly heavy blow. But thanks to your generosity and the amazing response to our emergency appeal, as well as this year’s Rebuild Nepal appeal, they now have hope for the future.

In the months following the earthquake, your gifts provided funds and materials to build temporary shelters – a huge relief for those who were forced to live under tarpaulin or even in the open air after losing their homes. You also helped provide emergency treatment at Anandaban Hospital that saved lives and helped people on their road to recovery with surgery, physiotherapy and counselling.

And now, thanks to your ongoing care and compassion, people like Krishna, pictured above with his two sons in front of the ruins of their home, will be able to start moving in to newly built homes after months of living in cold, cramped shelters.

“It would have been impossible for me in this life to build another house for my family,” Krishna said. “I am so grateful to everyone who has helped. I will never forget the care that I got from the staff at The Leprosy Mission. My family will once again have a roof over their heads.”

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A typical temporary shelter in Nepal

Your help over the past year has meant so much to so many people. Here are just a few of their stories.

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Dhurba

Dhurba’s house collapsed during the earthquake – and his wheelchair was crushed by the rubble. After receiving a grant to help he and his family purchase materials to build a temporary shelter, Dhurba was also given a brand new wheelchair.

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Dev (right)

Dev lost her home and only source of income in the earthquake – the goats that were her livelihood were killed by falling buildings. She desperately need a fresh start – she is disabled by leprosy and also primary carer for her husband, who is housebound. Thanks to a grant of 15,000 rupees, she has bought another goat and built a temporary shelter.

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Ganesh, Ganga and their family

Ganesh and his wife Ganga have five children. Their whole village was destroyed in the earthquake. Ganesh was out working in the fields at the time and rushed home, thankfully finding that the rest of the family had been outside when the earthquake hit and were unharmed.

Ganesh has been receiving help from The Leprosy Mission from a long time – ever since he was first diagnosed with the disease at the age of ten. He  needs to wear special footwear and is supplied with shoes by Anandaban Hospital, making sure that his feet are protected from further injury. The family received a grant to build a temporary shelter last year. Now, thanks to your generosity, they will be able to look forward to a new permanent home.

You can still make a difference to people affected by the 2015 earthquakes with a gift to our Rebuild Nepal appeal. Your gifts really are helping to transform lives and bring new hope to Nepal.

Nandlal’s hope for a new home

 

Lal Bahadur Tamang and Kanchhi Maya Tamaz
Nandlal and Muna

Nandlal, 58, and his wife Muna live in Kavre District, Nepal, together with their four grown up children. Before the earthquake, Nandlal had overcome leprosy, going through long term treatment at Anandaban Hospital. With support from the hospital, he had started up his own business – a grocery shop – and was also keeping goats. It was a far cry from the life of suffering he experienced before being cured of leprosy.

25 years ago, he noticed strange symptoms – tingling sensations in his arms, and blisters on his hands and feet. Traditional healing had no effect, so Nandlal eventually visited his local health clinic and was horrified to be told he had leprosy. He told us he was afraid because the stigma surrounding disease was so bad.

As his symptoms got worse and developed a terrible ulcer on his leg, a neighbour suggested he go to Anandaban. By the time he arrived, the ulcer had become infected and had made him seriously ill. Thankfully Nandlal finally received the care he so desperately needed – and was cured of leprosy.

His ulcers have never returned, thanks to the fact he follows the self-care regime he was taught at Anandaban. And happily, The Leprosy Mission’s stigma prevention work in the area means he has been able to carry on with life without prejudice from the community.

But Nandlal’s life changed forever when the earthquake hit. The whole family was in the grocery shop attached to their home when it happened. Mercifully, the shop did not collapse and they escaped uninjured,  but the house was destroyed. Three of their five goats were also killed when their shed collapsed.

The family lived under tarpaulins, until they received emergency aid – thanks to your generous response to our earthquake appeal – that enabled Nandlal to buy corrugated sheets to make a temporary shelter. The shelter is a short term solution, but they need a permanent home.

Right now, Nandlal is unsure what the future holds. The effects of leprosy on his hands and feet mean he is quite limited in what he can do – but the death of his goats and his damaged, unstable shop mean he’s worried about having enough money to get by. Most of all, the family need a new home that would keep them safe and sheltered from the elements.

You can help Nandlal and others like him get the fresh start they need. Nandlal has been through so much because of leprosy, disability and now the devastation of the earthquake. A gift to the Rebuild Nepal appeal could ensure that he will have a fresh start.

A gift of £20 will provide a toilet and sink for a new home. And £55 will pay for a pallet of bricks to get building started. You can make a difference to people like Nandlal today.

 

Stories from Nepal: Pavitra

The final installment of Partnership Manager Louise Timmins’s blogs from Nepal, where she visited Anandaban Hospital last month, meeting some of the people whose lives have been devastated by the earthquakes. Towards the end of her visit she met Pavitra, who benefited from a new house thanks to The Leprosy Mission last year.

Pavitra at the Self Care Unit at Anandaban Hospital.
Pavitra at the Self Care Unit at Anandaban Hospital.

The Self Care Unit at Anandaban Hospital is where patients affected by leprosy learn how to soak hands and feet which have lost feeling because of disease, remove dead skin and moisturise with oil. This is so important because soaked, supple skin is less likely to crack and injure. Injuries can turn in to horrendous ulcers which take months to heal. Sadly in some cases, the ulcers become so infected that amputation is the only option.

As I walked down the 360 steps from the hospital to the Self Care Unit, I could see eight or nine patients sitting and chatting together. It is fantastic that they can share experiences and encourage one another here. Only someone who has experienced leprosy first hand can really understand the horrors of the disease.

Pavitra looks on as Self Care Unit manager Kassi tends to her feet.
Pavitra looks on as Self Care Unit manager Kassi tends to her feet.

Pavitra had just soaked her feet and was having the dead skin removed by Kassi, who is also affected by leprosy and manages the Self Care Unit. We started chatting and Pavitra told me her story:

“I was sixteen when I first noticed I was losing feeling in my hands,” she said. “It was very strange and I didn’t understand what was happening. I was scared so I just ignored it and tried to hide what was happening from my family and friends.

“Luckily my parents found a husband for me and we got married. I kept the secret of my illness from my husband, but when we had a son a year later, I couldn’t hide it anymore. By this point my hands were almost useless; my fingers wouldn’t straighten and I didn’t feel it when my son grasped them. I kept burning myself when preparing meals. It was terrible. I felt so sad all the time.

“My husband was so angry – he realised I had leprosy. He threw me and our son out of the house. I was disgraced – I am from a low caste, and with leprosy too I knew I didn’t have much of a future to look forward to.

“Thankfully my mother took us in. I’m an only child and she was so good to me.

“I now live with my son and his family – I have five grandchildren so it’s a busy household. My son also ran a tailoring business from the house until recently.”

Despite the support of her family, Pavitra has faced new challenges following the earthquake at the end of April.

“When the earthquake came we lost everything,” she told me. “Thankfully no-one apart from my daughter-in-law was inside the house – she jumped out of the upstairs window to safety. Our home is gone and our income from my son’s business has gone. We are desperate.

“I feel very sad about losing my home; it was only built by The Leprosy Mission last year. I was so excited when we moved in. I’d never had a toilet in 57 years – it was wonderful! Now I wonder what will happen to us.

“We’re living in a tent; it’s really hard to manage in such a small space, especially when it’s raining.

“I am thankful for The Leprosy Mission; they treat me like family when I am here. It’s almost like coming home. I hope that God will provide me with a house for my family again. I don’t know how we will manage otherwise.”

The Leprosy Mission Nepal is currently looking at plans to start rebuilding homes destroyed by the earthquake early next year. We value your prayers as we do so and hope we will be able to partner with other organisations in Nepal to transform the desperate situations of people like Pavitra.