Print Edition - 2015-06-09  |  Earthquake Relief

Karishma works in the affected districts

Karishma works in the affected districts

Jun 8, 2015-

Karishma Manandhar is undoubtedly one of the most popular actresses in the Nepali film industry. The actress, who made her debut in the film Santaan at the age of 14, has been a part of the industry for three decades now. After the Great Earthquake struck on April 25, Manandhar realised the extent of the calamity that had been inflicted upon the people around the country and started engaging in relief operations just a week after the disaster. Till date, the actress has reached Kavre three times--taking along with her relief material--to Sindupalchok and to most of the quake-affected areas around the Kathmandu Valley. And while she is at it, she has been trying to help the victims overcome their sorrow with her support and kind words. The Post’s Anup Ojha caught up with the evergreen actress and talked to her about her earthquake and her relief experiences. Excerpts:

 

What were you doing when the Great Quake rattled the country? 

I was on the third floor of my house in Godavari.  I had just entered the bathroom to take a bath. All of sudden, the house started to shake. I thought it wouldn’t go on for long, but the shaking became worse.  I tried to run downstairs. On the way, I fell down and injured my knee. The wound still hurts.  I got up and stayed under the door-frame, gripping the wood as tightly as I could.

What did you do next? 

I was worried about my daughter. Later on, I came to know that she had already run away.  I kept on calling her, but I only found her when I reached downstairs. I felt relieved and we walked out towards open space. I could feel the aftershocks for a long time after that. It was terrifying. 

What was the scene like around your place after the quake? 

As my house stands atop a hill in Godawari, one can see the entire view of the Kathmandu Valley from there. From the third floor of my workout room, Dharahara is easily visible. But on that day, I could only see clouds of dust. The entire Kathmandu was covered in dust. As the haze covered everything, I thought the entire valley was ravaged. Luckily the damage was a lot less than what I had expected.

Have your near and dear ones been affected by the quake?

Both my maternal uncle and aunt in Sindupalchok were buried under their house. Later, their bodies were retrieved from the debris. This was shocking news for me. I later came to know that all the houses in the area were destroyed. Sindupalchok had to go through a great loss. It is very painful.

Ever since the Great Quake, you have been busy in relief distribution. Which areas of the country have you been working in?

I visited the various quake-affected areas around Kathmandu and the open spaces where people were taking shelter under tarps. I have taken along noodles, biscuits and water with me. Later, I went to Kavre three times with relief material. After that I went to Sindupalchok and the villages in Thankot and Ramkot in the Valley. I went to several villages, many of whose names I cannot recall now. And in the affected areas, which we could not get to, I contacted the local people and Chief District Officers of the different districts and dispatched relief material.

Any remarkable incidents from your visits to the affected areas? 

After the second quake, on May 12, I travelled to a village near Thankot. I met a man there--I guess he in his late 20s. The man had lost all five members of his family. But I was quite surprised when I talked to him; he looked normal and I couldn’t find sorrow on his face. The next incident: My maternal uncle called me to inform me of his parents’ death. But he was quite calm over the phone and his voice seemed very normal. Despite the surprise, I later realised that it wasn’t that people were not grieving. Because so many people had lost their loved ones, the sorrow had become more than personal--it had become an issue that we all shared in. I guess, by trying to overcome the shock of the death of their loved ones, people were trying to be stronger as there was so much to do now that everything had been lost. These people, who are trying to move forward, despite all the sadness, have given me hope. 

What role could artists, like you, play during such a time of crisis? 

From my own personal experience, I can say that we artists possess the power of healing. For example, after the second quake, I had gone to Balaju Bypass. A middle-aged woman was removing the rubble of her house, which was fully destroyed.  She was trying hard to excavate food grains out of the debris. But as soon as she saw me, she stopped working and called out to me. She didn’t look sad; in fact, she was happy to see me. I wasn't there with  relief supplies, so there wasn’t anything that I could give her. She gave me warmth, instead. And regarding the role of the artists, although our film industry has a small market and we are not treated as celebrities here, at the time of crisis, I can proudly say that artists from the Nepali entertainment industry are actively participating in relief work.  They are working around the clock in reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in all the affected areas. They have been carrying out the role of both artists as well as humans. 

Published: 09-06-2015 08:25

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