‘It felt like the shaking went on for 10-15 minutes; but it was only around 12 seconds; if I closed my eyes I thought that it would just stop.’ Bishek, 11.
As Christian Aid staff and partners assess the damage to communities in the Kathmandu Valley, and distribute food and emergency items to those who need it most, the stories begin to pour in from those affected by the earthquake.
Like that of Bishek, 11, from the village of Pkhel in the Bhaktapur district. Just before the ground began to shake, he and his brother were watching TV.
‘When the shaking started I tried to run outside but kept falling over; my brother Prakesh helped me to get up, but I know now that if I had managed to reach outside I would now be dead as the front of the house fell away as we reached the door.’
Soldiers came and pulled the rest of Bishek’s house down as it was too dangerous to live in. Without any of their belongings they are now living under a tarpaulin.
‘When it rains everything floods… All I can think about now is being safe with my family.’
Around 10 km away in the ancient city of Kirtipur, brothers Shivam Shu Thapa, 5, and Sanjog Basnet, 11, were playing a game when the earthquake struck, and the walls started to fall around them.
Their school had taught them to find a safe place out in the open during an earthquake or, if they couldn’t do that, to stay inside and hide under a table. But it wasn’t that simple.
‘We had no table to hide under, so we laid on the bed and covered ourselves with blankets and hoped we would not get hurt; it was terrifying.’
Chini Thapa, 65, was sleeping when the shaking began, and woke suddenly to the strong tremors ripping through the earth.
‘I was near the window, when all of a sudden I was up to my waist in debris; the roof had collapsed in.’
Chini was dragged from the rubble by her husband and children. Her clothes torn, her body bruised and battered, she was overcome with relief at having survived the disaster.
She now sits in a temporary relief camp, half a kilometre from her old home. She struggles to sleep at night, worrying about what the future might hold for her and her community. Despite having lost her possessions, their home and all the food they had in storage, her words tell of a remarkable resilience and generosity of spirit.
‘I feel grateful that we at least have somewhere to live, but wish so much that I could help those less fortunate. I wish for them that they receive support like we are from some of the organisations that are beginning to visit us with food and other relief items.’
The rains have already begun in Kathmandu Valley and the threat of the monsoon season looms large over those living in camps.
Our partners are on the ground now, responding to the immediate needs of those like Bishek, Shivam, Sanjog and Chini - distributing blankets, tarpaulins, food and water purification tablets.
Their stories don’t stop here and our partners are working hard to make sure that the next chapter of their life story is one of hope.
Photos: Christian Aid / Sam Spickett