Embargoed until 25 April 2016
Photo credit: Christian Aid / Gideon Mendel
Unpublished link to photo gallery https://medium.com/@caglobal/d61fdef7b79f Images available on request.
25 April 2016 -A year on from the devastating earthquakes that killed nearly 9,000 Nepalese people, acclaimed photographer Gideon Mendel and development charity Christian Aid have released a series of stunning portraits and personal stories demonstrating how ‘acts of kindness’ helped stranded families to survive in the aftermath of the disaster.
Mendel travelled to Nepal’s Gorkha and Dhading districts with Christian Aid to see first-hand how communities had worked together to survive the immediate impacts of the earthquakes, after being cut off from relief efforts by landslides.
The striking portraits show people in the remnants of their wrecked homes and tell stories of the individuals who rescued strangers, treated the injured, cooked for their community and helped neighbours to rebuild homes.
Mendel’s work is accompanied by research from Christian Aid revealing that 94 percent* of people surveyed in Gorkha and Dhading claimed to have supported fellow community members after the earthquake. These findings, based on responses from almost 200 people, show how resilient and self-reliant communities can be in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, says Christian Aid.
Christian Aid’s Senior Emergency Programme Manager, Dipankar Patnaik, based in Nepal, said: “Disasters such as these often spark fears of civil unrest and a ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ mentality, as affected people become increasingly desperate. Yet, as the research illustrates, it is also a time when extraordinary acts of humanity take place; when people, despite all they have lost, give what they can to help others in need.
Chandra Ghale (pictured in red), a 32-year-old construction worker from Baluwa, Gorkha, said: “Once the earth stopped shaking we helped rescue people buried in the rubble, removed dead bodies and looked for the injured. The situation was very difficult. No one came to the rescue as the roads were closed. We began to clear the roads ourselves and formed a group to set up temporary shelters and request relief materials. When the relief finally arrived we distributed it according to the size of the family.”
Laxmi Gurung (pictured in a purple scarf), a 30-year-old hotel owner from Baluwa, Gorkha, said: “We had stored food [in the hotel] so I was able to feed people in the days after the earthquake. Many neighbours gathered and I would cook for them. Everyone was hungry. When people were going through such a miserable time, I did not think twice about giving them food.”
Dhan Kumari Magar (pictured in pink), a 44-year-old primary school teacher from Simjung, Gorkha, said: “I helped to rescue a woman in a nearby house and her six-month old baby. They were trapped under the debris and the woman was unconscious. It was terrible to see them under the collapsed house. I also looked after the injured patients. I boiled water and helped clean their wounds. There were no medical supplies and we had to use old clothes as bandages.”
This May at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Christian Aid will be calling on governments and humanitarian organisations around the world to commit to promoting greater community resilience, locally-led disaster response and greater emphasis on listening to affected populations.
Christian Aid says that while humanitarian aid is crucial in an emergency, it is also vital to prepare people before disaster strikes, so they are equipped to deal with crises. Evidence shows that for every £1 spent helping communities prepare for disasters, we can save up to £4 in emergency response costs.
The charity works with local partners worldwide to ensure efficient and effective responses: for instance, by mapping out evacuation plans, delivering search and rescue training and teaching ‘safe’ construction methods for building safe and resilient homes.
The earthquakes, which hit Nepal on 25 April and 12 May and measured 7.8 and 7.3 on the Richter scale, killed 9,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
*The statistic above is drawn from research for Christian Aid’s new multimedia project, Nepal Aftershocks: the people’s truth about aid, which reflects the organisation’s commitment to listen and learn from those affected by humanitarian disasters. To find out more about the project visitwww.christianaid.org.uk/nepal-aftershocks
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
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