Personal Experience: Building temporary shelters at Sirandada, Gorkha after earthquake

Raunak Raj Sarraf during Earthquake Response Trip to Gorkha
Raunak Raj Sarraf during Earthquake Response Trip to Gorkha

Raunak Raj Sarraf during Sano Paila’s Earthquake Response Trip to Gorkha

The earthquake was like wavering in see-saw and frightening when I experienced it. I was at home, getting ready for lunch. All the individuals rushed out from their houses to an open field. After 12-15 minutes, another terrifying quake occurred and left everyone with fear. We confirmed that no one was entering their houses again until we got assurance from the respective authority that we are safe to live back in the houses.

The day after quake, it was Sunday. I came to my office (Sano Paila, A Little Step). We, from our office raised funds as well to support the families with relief materials. One of the Sano Paila well wisher & also a local resident of Sirandada, Gorkha, Mr. Umesh Gurung informed us of the devastation caused by the earthquake at Sirandada. In response, we geared up to collect relief materials to support the families at Sirandada. On 1st May 2015, I together with my coworkers left to Sirandada, Gorkha with tents, tarpaulins, food materials and medical services.

With loads of energy and will, I together with co-workers left for Gorkha, Sirandada. I went with the determination to provide support to the families affected by the earthquake. Sirandada, Gorkha is located at an altitude of 2000 meters, beyond which there is no human residence. The idea that I was going to a remote place high up in the hills which in itself is very hard to reach and is totally destroyed by earthquake added motivation in me to go and serve. When I reached there, the scenario was devastating. Not a single house was in condition — they were destroyed or cracked and everyone was living under the same condition. Families were in fear and traumatized, and were totally helpless. For instance, I saw a family who had lost their newly built house. They had not ever lived in their new house and the earthquake took their house away from them. I met them and talked in person. They were very upset; they had invested all their earnings in building their new house but never had the chance to sleep even a single night there. That was distressing for me.

It was very hard for me to put smile on my face after seeing the situation there. However, I gathered my spirit and I along with my team members, started counseling the families to stand together to overcome the pain. I started motivating families to build temporary shelters and not to depend upon relief materials. Government, donor agencies and other CBOs/NGO for sure were going to help, but I insisted that they should keep going and think for themselves too. I kept trying to motivate people in stand up together and move back to normal life as soon as possible.

For me it was an empowering experience which boosted me as well. The resilient initiation of Sano Paila enabled me to work directly with community people and help them to restore their normal life which has added an unforgettable moment in my life. 

Raunak Raj Sarraf

(Author Raunak Raj Sarraf is serving as a Planning and Research Officer at Sano Paila. Story dated: August 2015)