One year ago, a massive earthquake in Nepal—of the same magnitude as the quake that shook Ecuador last week—left thousands of people dead or injured, hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed, and much of the country’s infrastructure damaged.
How are the Nepali people faring? How is the rebuilding process going?
Canadian Jesuits International is a member of the Xavier Network (XN) and coordinates its emergency assistance with it. The following is a press release from the XN team that just returned from visiting Nepal on the anniversary of the earthquake:
Nepal news: A year later we continue building education
On April 25, 2015, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 shook Nepal leaving almost 8,900 dead and over 22,000 injured. In addition, more than 600,000 homes were completely destroyed and another 285,000 suffered some kind of damage. With regard to schools, about 1 million children were left unable to go to school. Less than a month later (May 12), Nepal suffered another tremor that increased the number of victims and the situation worsened further.
From the first moment, the Xavier Network activated its emergency protocol and contacted the Society of Jesus in Nepal, to assess the damage, quickly mobilize, and raise funds for sending immediate aid with which to assist people in the most affected regions.
The emergency phase (April-August 2015) was coordinated through the Nepal Jesuit Social Institute (NJSI) which, together with the collaboration of thousands of local volunteers (especially students of the Jesuits’ educational institutions in the country), distributed humanitarian aid (non-perishable food, water purification capsules, tents, blankets, mats, etc.) in the urban area of ÔÇïÔÇïKathmandu and the Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchwok, Dhading, Gorkha and Nuwakot districts, all located at the epicentre of the earthquake. At a later stage the Dolakha, Sindhuli, Ramechhap and Makwanpur districts were also included, with the constant aim of reaching the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.
In the second early recovery phase (September to December), the NJSI focused on the distribution of study items: uniforms, educational materials and furniture for students and teachers. The aim was to recommence education as soon as possible so that children and youth could regain some stability and not lose the rhythm of school. Also zinc sheets for building 993 temporary dwellings were distributed.
Finally, since January 2016, we have been in the reconstruction phase, attending to the most remote rural communities that aren’t getting any other help and are especially vulnerable because of their starting situation at a high level of poverty.
In addition work with women has been carried out, supporting the construction of 7 “Women’s Safe Spaces” and also supporting the work of the local NGO “Home Net Nepal.” In the same vein, training for 79 women in entrepreneurship and management of income-generating activities (e.g., making candles, necklaces or soap) has been provided.
Right now, like other organizations that are helping in the country, we are waiting for the Nepalese government to give the green light for the construction of permanent housing and schools. One year after the earthquake nearly four million people are still living in temporary shelters in conditions that threaten their health and welfare.
After housing, the Government has found that the second most urgent need in Nepal is education. We in the Xavier Network strongly agree with this assessment. This is why we continue to support the work of the Society of Jesus in Nepal, building new schools, offering qualified training to teachers, providing basic materials with which to develop classes, assisting communities in their recovery process and offering special attention to children with special needs. In short, we are helping to create the long-term capacity needed to reduce the vulnerability of the country.