A couple of days ago we told you about Uma Desar and her family. Uma works at Vajra Varahi Healthcare clinic in Chapagaon. We thought you might be interested in what happened to the other non-medical staff at the clinic and what it means to them to be back at work.
Bhuwaneswori Shrestha (in the main picture) is still sleeping in one of the family fields with her son of 9 months. They were on the roof when the earthquake began. “I was giving my son a massage in the sun. I thought the shaking was my husband moving his feet” she told us, “but then I realised what was happening. We tried to run out of the house but there were bricks and mud falling and so much shaking we couldn’t get out. We sheltered in the door until the shaking stopped. I left without any shoes or clothes, only a thin cloth – not even a shawl – for the baby. I was so scared. We went out to the field behind our house. In front of my eyes I saw other houses falling down”.
“By the evening we were able to go into what was left of the house and get shoes, a floor mat, some plastic and bamboo, dried beaten rice (chiura).”
“We have stayed in different places – the last place was a storeroom at a local school, with no window and no lock on the door and we all got ill. CGLF gave us some jasta and now the family is in a one-room tin hut in our field for the family. I will try and put plywood inside for the winter to try and keep it a bit warmer.”
“I didn’t feel like coming back to work but I got a call from the clinic – there is so much to do here. It’s difficult being back. I think of my baby all the time. My body is here but my heart is at home – there is one house nearby that could fall on our hut at any time. Our house has to be pulled down. Last year we did a whole lot of repairs and of course I had the baby. We don’t know when we will get any money to rebuild the house so I need to work”.
“I have forgotten everything I used to do before the earthquake – it’s like a dream now”.
Urmilla was at church on the second floor. “At first we didn’t move. It felt just like being on a giant swing, getting stronger all the time. Then we all got up and ran downstairs. I fell twice and hurt my feet – they are still painful”.
“There was dust everywhere in the air. I came home to look for my husband and son – it was very frightening – but they were both back home by afternoon. I called my mother who lives in a village beyond Champi. Many of the houses there had fallen down. My house is only one story and it is fine, just one or two very small cracks”.
“I cook lunch at the clinic each day. I came back to work after four days. I didn’t want to come back to work but it is fine now. The kitchen is on the third floor – it is pretty scary to be there, but that is not a good reason to stay at home, without knowing when the next earthquake will come. My husband works in Chapagaon and my son is studying nearby. When the second earthquake happened I had just finished cooking and was downstairs staffing reception while the others have lunch. I was able to run outside straight away.”
Prajwal, clinic manager, was at home. “I had time to get outside. We slept in the feild for weeks but now all the family are staying in my building in two rooms – my mother, my wife and I. My brother and father are looking after our old family house in Patan. They can only use the ground floor and the house needs to be partly demolished. Meanwhile if another house falls down next door it will pull ours with it”.
“I came back to work as within four days. It was really important we opened the clinic. There were so many people who needed help and the volunteer practitioners needed interpreters. Being at the clinic is scary especially with the daily aftershocks but my office is on the ground floor and we keep the doors open all the time”.
“When I read about earthquakes in other parts of the world and I realised we are not the only ones facing this. And I felt much better knowing that”.
Sushila is one of the clinic interpreters. “I was in the shower just about to undress. I heard a noise just like an helicopter flying then everything started shaking. I ran outside – it was really difficult to run straight and I hurt my knee. My brother was at home and he ran outside too”.
“Luckily no-one was injured. My dad was in church but he was ok. The shaking was front to back not side to side or the church might have fallen in the river. We slept outside in the garden for three days and we didn’t have plastic the first night – it was very hard to find. There were snakes and mosquitos and it was very uncomfortable”.
“While I was at home I thought only about the earthquake and I was scared. Coming back to work the time passes. It is good to exchange experiences, It’s better to share feelings and it is much better to help people. So many people need our help. It’s scary to work inside and at first we ate outside – but things feel normal now”.
Laxmi, an interpreter and homoeopath, was helping cook lunch in her family cafe in Boudhanath. “We heard a strange sound and my mum screamed and ran outside. I couldn’t feel anything. I saw things shaking and moving but I was in shock and I couldn’t move. When it stopped I cried a lot and I was so scared – I really thought I would die. My father was out with my brother and they both came home safely”.
“We slept in the field in front of the government school with many other families for nine days. It was hard to buy plastic and it rained all the time. It was very crowded and we all used the school toilets so they were really dirty after a while. We had to rush into the cafe to cook and run out every time there was an aftershock. It was really scary. So eventually we moved back to our family village outside the valley. My parents are still there, they have opened another cafe”.
“All the time we were away I was thinking about work. It was difficult to come back, but we have to help other people. My mum was very frightened for me and I thought about leaving my job. It was a very hard decision to come back but I needed to move on and face the challenge”.
“So my brother and I came back to Boudhanath. I have seen many other people in shock like me – I was so scared inside. I have had a lot of relief form homoepathic remedies and been able to help many other people since I have been back. I travel from Boudha to the clinic every day. When it gets dark I get scared again, but hen I am at work I feel good, when I am with friends.”
Four months after that first earthquake all our staff continue working to help others. Despite their own fears, and their worries about the future, they come in every day to make sure that patients can still have treatment. As they help others they help each other, sharing and lessening the strains of recovery.
We salute your courage and we are inspired by your strength; thank you, everyone.