The community of Haku VDC, Rasuwa has been through extremely difficult times over the past year. They are among the poorest in the entire district, socially marginalised and far removed from the local power structure. Although the number of lives lost in Haku was second only to Langtang (also in Rasuwa), the village has received scant attention from national and international actors. At least two areas in Haku (ward no 8 & 9) were completely wiped out by the earthquake. The villagers are permanently displaced, have no source of income and are staying in temporary shelters on leased land from where they could get evicted anytime. They are doing all they can to survive from one day to the next, but are deeply worried about how long they can carry on like this. A young man from one of the camps, who lost his wife, home and village in the quake, committed suicide a few days ago. His friends and relatives think the heavy loss, displacement and uncertainty about the future had made life unbearable for him. There are many others who seem pushed to the edge of despair.
The greatest priority of the camp residents at the moment is to build liveable shelters from where they will not get evicted. They have identified a piece of land in Battar, Nuwakot where 95 families from two camps could possibly resettle. They are struggling to find the means to buy the land, to no avail. Even though the families have pooled in every bit of cash in their possession, including small cash relief received from organizations/individuals, they have not been able to come up with the required sum. Camp co-ordinators have tried to obtain a loan from different sources but since they need a fairly big amount (NPR 25 lakhs or roughly $25,000) and since the community is very poor, individuals and institutions are hesitant to give despite the coordinators’ repeated assurances that they will repay installments in time.
Unfortunately, our group does not have enough funds left to help them purchase the land, but we have been trying to support them in smaller ways. We also plan to start a livelihood scheme for families from two camps. Below I’ve provided brief updates on our recent work with people from Haku.
Furniture support to Haku Secondary School
At the request of teachers and students of Haku VDC, Rasuwa, a few weeks ago we provided education materials and furniture for Haku Secondary School. There are around 200 students in this school. They had been living in temporary camps far from their village but returned to their destroyed village as they could not find a place for resettlement. The local school does not have classrooms or furniture.
It was a very difficult task transporting the furniture and education materials to the village. The local teachers (Umesh Thokar and Buddhi Moktan) stayed under a tent for two nights at the delivery point guarding the furniture. Next day one of them went to Haku and arranged a few women porters (no male porters were available) to carry the furniture along the steep and dangerous trail.
Umesh Thokar said Haku villagers had lost hope that they would get any real support from government or donors. It’s been a year since the earthquake devastated their village, but people have received nothing except small relief supplies a few times. For example, one donor provided shoes for children and the kids had to wait for the next donor to get socks. The teachers said the furniture is the first substantial form of support they have received and it means a lot to them. They have sent their sincere thanks to all those to contributed funds, time and labour for this initiative. The total cost of education materials, sports items, furniture including transportation was NPR 247,269.
Rations for families in four IDP camps
Most organizations have stopped providing emergency relief such as food to earthquake survivors, but there are many who are still in need of such support. Displaced people of Haku, who lost their homes, livelihoods and village, are among them. Realizing that families in Haku IDP camps were facing severe food shortage, Trek for Nepal (a volunteer group led by Nischal Neupane) proposed providing them rations in February 2016. Out of the 500 bags (30 kg each) of rice provided by Trek for Nepal, 110 bags were procured by our group for NPR 111,200. The 500 bags of rice were distributed to 383 families in four IDP camps (Satbise, Naubise, Bogatitar and Sankhule) based on family size.
Drinking water supply for families in Satbise camp
Some of the displaced people of Haku are living in temporary shelters in Satbise, Nuwakot. Among many other problems, they had been facing acute shortage of drinking water. Local residents did not allow them to use their water source. (They think the camp residents have ruined the environment of their village and regard them with hostility.) Therefore, the camp coordinator requested various donors to provide them support for drinking water supply. They needed 1500 metres of 20mm diameter high-density polythene pipes. Our group provided 1000 metres, and the rest was provided by an NGO. The total cost of the pipes and transportation was NPR 41,000. Camp residents contributed labour for construction and installation. The pipe has been fixed to the main source and 37 families in the camp now have access to drinking water. They have expressed their gratitude to all the individuals who contributed funds to our relief group.