Print Edition - 2015-05-10 | Earthquake Relief
How disaster bonded a community
May 9, 2015-
Since the day of the Great Quake, the relationship between the people in our neighbourhood changed forever—for good.
There are a total of 18 houses in our colony. Before the disaster struck, the people living in them, they hardly interacted with one another, leaving aside a few periodic colony meetings, which were attended by one member from every house.
After the massive tremor that hit us during midday on April 25 subsided, we rushed out of our house. And together with other residents of the colony, we moved out of the colony premises, as there is hardly any open space there.
To our surprise, a neighbour, whom we had never been acquainted with, opened the gates of her home. As her house was the only one in the area with open space outside, everybody poured in, and so did we. We waited for the aftershocks to stop, with no luck.
The day came to pass and the owner of the house made an attempt to comfort the several families perched on her garden with biscuits and water. Some of us brought beaten rice from our homes and shared with each other. That night, we spent the night under the open sky—a gray sky, saddened but unscathed.
Our good neighbour let the residents of our colony stay at her place. Families who owned four-wheelers parked their vehicles in her compound and arranged for spending the night there, while others found place to sleep in the front porch.
A night of dread and frequent aftershocks gave way to the next day. One of the families brought tea from their home, which we all shared. Some of us brought pots and pans, some rice and vegetables and gathered to prepare lunch. One family brought in and set up two tents in the compound.
For the next three days, all the neighbours got together to cook, eat and listen to the radio. Experiences of the great shock were shared in between the recurring aftershocks. We would take turns to check up on our homes and charge our mobile phones with solar backup installed at one of our neighbour’s place. In between all this, we would anticipate for the news that would assure us that it was safe to move back indoors.
Fortunately, none of the homes in the colony incurred major damage. And two weeks after the dreadful day, we still go back to the house that welcomed us during the time of calamity.
We ask her if everything is alright, and show our gratitude for taking care of us for the four longest days of our lives. The earthquake took many lives and left a dent in the history of the country and in our lives. But the situation that the disaster put us in taught us a valuable lesson—a lesson of friendship and community spirit. I know the names of everybody in the neighbourhood now.
Even now, when I follow the news and see and hear of so many Nepalis helping each other out, I think to myself that others too probably went through similar experiences that led them to realise the value of being compassionate towards their own.
Shrestha is an information coordinator at Save the Children
Published: 10-05-2015 09:17