The fields of Nikoshera sparkle jewel-green under the sapphire sky, just as they should. In front of a street of neat houses, chillies, sweetcorn and gundruk lie on large cloths drying in the sun. It is the same timeless scene one expects for late August in Nepal.
But this year is just a little different. The inhabited houses are all single storey made with corrugated tin and bamboo. They are all shapes and sizes; some are square and tall, made entirely of tin. Some curve in elegant arches with intricate bamboo facing and ending walls complete with shuttered windows and latticed ventilation screens under the eaves. The shape echoes the wooden windows of the traditional mud brick houses, even if the house looks more like a mushroom shed from a distance!
When we delivered 107 bundles of jasta to Nikoshera earlier this summer, youth club member Raj Kiran told us “This year it will be very problematic to plant anything. People have no other place to build their temporary shelters but on their own fields. And as for clay pot making – they don’t have enough place now to dry and store those pots”
No-one is more pleased than Raj to see his prediction has only partly come true. Although the rice feilds were too badly flooded to plant and there are indeed houses on the fertile open fields, there has still been a harvest of sorts and there will be corn to grind and corn cobs to burn this winter.
The plastic sheets that made intitial shelters now shelter vegetables.The buildings that were half finished before the earthquake still sit waiting to be finished. But from those houses that fell, the rubble has been cleared away and reclaimed bricks neatly stacked insde new temporary houses.
Best of all, there are clay pots back in the shops. Life is truly getting back to normal!
The Youth Club has been instrumental in the transformation. Within two days of April 25th 2015 club members had made inventories of the dead, the injured and houses that had been destroyed. They sought help from outside, and on receiving jasta, shared it out equibaly amongst the villagers.
Then youth club focused their help with rebuilding on the poorest farmers, those without land, without menfolk to help rebuild and elderly living alone. The group rented three plots of land in different parts of the village and built a total of thirty two houses.
But not just houses! In every Nepali village you would have seen at least one (if not more) raised platforms, walled on two or three sides, and perhaps with a rush mat on the mud floor. Here elders would gather to pass the time of day, watch small children, undertake small chores.
“These days too many older people just stay at home and watch TV all day while their families are in the fields or at work. They become lonely or depressed” said Raj. “So we have built a community centre, somewehre older people can come together and talk, sing bhajans, enjoy company. No one should have to be alone”.
Our congratulations to everyone in the Youth Club for your creativity and committment to your community!