National

With no roofs over their heads, villagers forced to sleep under open skies

  • In one village in Bara, pregnant women and elderly are facing the brunt of the disaster.
- SHANKAR ACHARYA, LAXMI SAH, BARA

Apr 3, 2019-

Since the deadly rainstorm walloped his home on Sunday, Jaipal Ram has spent the last three nights under the open sky.

Jaipal and hundreds of villagers in Parwanipur Rural Municipality in Bara have since been inundated with help—but they say they still don’t have what they desperately need.

“We have received only food so far,” said Jaipal, as he sat in the rubble of his flattened house. “What we need immediately is a roof over our head.”

Rescue workers and organisations and individuals with relief materials have been in the village since Monday morning, but according to survivors, there has been a lack of understanding in identifying their immediate needs—tarpaulin sheets, sleeping mattresses and mosquito nets.

More than 300 households have been affected by the rainstorm in Parwanipur’s Chainpur village alone. Among them, 80 percent households are Dalit, Chamar and Musahar families, most of whom worked as daily wage workers and lived in thatched-roof houses.

In Purainiya village of Pheta Rural Municipality in Bara, new mothers have been hit hard due to the lack of proper shelters.

Rikma Khatun, who gave birth to a baby girl 15 days ago, said she has spent the last two days and nights under an umbrella.

“An umbrella is what I have to protect myself and this 15-day-old girl,” Khatun said as the infant bawled in her arms. “I don’t have a place to lie down.”

Khatun, whose two sons and father-in-law were injured in the incident and are receiving treatment at a local hospital, said she has neither been able to get proper sleep nor has had enough food.

“I just want a shelter so that I can look after my baby,” she said.

Villagers told the Post most of the volunteer groups that have arrived in the villages have been distributing noodles, biscuits and water.

“There are leaders from various political parties in the villages,” Jaipal said. “But they have all come with the same kind of food.”

Others say volunteers have been unfairly distributing relief materials.

“Politics and political agenda are hampering relief work in our area,” Jaipal continued. “Leaders who have come here are distributing relief to victims affiliated to their political parties.”

On Tuesday, a few survivors barged into the municipality’s ward office, demanding that the District Administration Office form a committee to distribute relief materials in a fair manner and ensure shelters for everyone. But their one message was most loud.

“We want roofs over our heads rather than food.”

Published: 03-04-2019 06:57

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