Nepal Earthquake, 25 April 2015 – a defining moment
At 11.50am on 25 April, a massive earthquake [7.8 on the Richter scale] struck Nepal in the area between Lamjung and Gorkha districts. The Nepal earthquake was followed by many aftershocks and another large earthquake on 12 May.
In total, nearly 9,000 people lost their lives and around 12,000 people were injured. Many people also lost everything they owned, including their food stores and animals. More than half a million homes were completely destroyed and around 300,000 were damaged. Many schools, health posts and government offices were also affected. A local resident in Amppipal describes what it was like when the Nepal earthquake struck:
“You don’t expect the ground to move under you. There were about 30 people in the area and as soon as the earthquake happened we all ran outside. We lay on the ground and instinctively grabbed the nearest person by the ankle or forearm. It lasted for about a minute, during which time people were screaming and crying. Even when the ground became still people were still very scared.”
First response to the Nepal Earthquake
The INF relief response started the day after the earthquake. This was made possible by the gifts and pledges from supporters around the world. The co-ordination, hard work and initiative of INF staff and Christians in Pokhara were also critical.
Church leaders organised many volunteers to help in packaging up supplies. In the days following the Nepal earthquake, teams worked long, hard hours to get everything ready for the first trucks. They left with parcels of rice, lentils and other basic food items.
3,556 households were given food packs, and 2,000 hygiene packs were also delivered.
Battling to reach communities affected
Some supplies were taken by INF partner Asal Chhimekee Nepal [ACN] to an area called Thumi. The community was particularly impressed by the efforts made to reach them. Because of the difficult road conditions, the ACN team had been told it would be impossible to reach the area directly. But they didn’t take no for an answer. They set out and faced many difficulties on the way. The vehicle got stuck, the road was blocked by trees, mud and landslides. It took six days to get there. In total, over 7,500 households like those in Thumi were given food, shelter and other relief items.
Landslides in Lumle
The earthquakes in April and May not only caused devastation at the time, but also had terrible knock-on effects. Areas already prone to landslides became even more vulnerable as the earth had become loose and unstable. On 29 July incessant rainfall in an area called Lumle [north-west of Pokhara] triggered a massive flash flood and landslide.
37 people died and 16 more were injured. 11 volunteers from ACN went to Lumle early the very next morning. They joined people from the village and the local army in the very sad job of digging out bodies from the mud.
Raju remembers, “people were lamenting in grief. Some had lost their loved ones. The entire sight was indeed heart wrenching”.
The team were determined to help as best they could and make sure that no further lives were lost. ACN provided materials for 200 gabions to be constructed. These were needed to protect houses, fields, bridges and water supplies from further landslides. They were also used to strengthen banks and dams.
Back to normality, back to school
As the Nepal earthquake happened on a Saturday, children were not at school and fewer people were inside buildings or offices. This was a blessing because it meant more lives were spared. But sadly the strength of the earthquake meant that many school and government buildings were totally destroyed or very badly damaged.
INF worked in partnership with the Government of Nepal and local church members to help people get back to normal life as much as possible.
In many villages, schools had been so badly destroyed that teaching was interrupted for two months. INF helped build 115 temporary class rooms across 25 different schools. Stationery supplies were distributed to 4,000 children. There was noticeable joy in the communities to see that their children’s education had not been forgotten.
In the first days after the Nepal earthquake, INF sent a medical team to Gorkha where hundreds of people were treated. Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara made beds available for spinal cord injury patients who could not be treated at the Government’s regional hospital.
ACN ran two health camps for children. Each day, more than 100 children attended, had their wounds dressed, and received medication if needed. They also learned about the importance of hygiene and keeping clean - particularly important when many families were living in temporary shelters.
New opportunities rising from the rubble
Better health care for Srinathkot
Health posts are the first port of call for basic medical care for people living in rural areas. In Srinathkot, Gorkha district, the health post was very badly damaged by the earthquakes.
Thanks to our supporters, the people of Srinathkot have been able to build a new health post. It’s not just a replacement of what they had before. It is actually a much better building and with better facilities.
Rukmina is the local nurse and midwife for Srinathkot. She is passionate about her work and really excited about the new birthing centre which is part of the new health post. The centre will mean mothers can have their babies locally rather than risking a home birth or having to be carried to the nearest hospital.
On 10 March 2016, less than a year after the Nepal earthquake, the new health post was officially opened and handed over to the local Government. It was the very first one to be reconstructed in the whole of Gorkha district.
A new health post for Amppipal
The earthquake also completely destroyed the health post in Amppipal. Health checks or consultations had to be carried out in a tent. There was very little space and insufficient privacy. Now the people of Amppipal have a brand new health post of their own.
The new health post was built on an ideal location near two roads. The land for the site was donated by a community member. Local people contributed financially to make the ground level, ready for building. INF supporters provided funds for the construction which, like Shrinathkot, includes a birthing centre.
Amppipal health staff said: “We are really pleased about the new birthing centre. Many deliveries always happen at night. It’s reassuring to know that most babies can be delivered locally, and then only the complicated cases need to go to the main hospital.”
Caring for the whole person
When disaster strikes, the physical needs are obvious. What’s harder to see is the damage that’s been done to people’s psychological and mental wellbeing.
INF partner Elijah Counselling and Training Centre [ECTC] are committed to seeing Nepali people living happy, emotionally and spiritually stable lives. They offer high quality pastoral care and counselling – something that it still quite new to Nepal.
Since the Nepal earthquake of April 2015, their team of trained counsellors have spent time with nearly 2,000 survivors. They have worked with both individuals and groups. They helped people to understand the effects of trauma and reassured them that their symptoms of anxiety were normal under the circumstances.
Trauma counselling training has been run with people from churches, schools and other groups involved in emergency relief work and caring for victims. Over 2,000 people attended the training sessions. But their impact will be much greater than this. An estimated 10,000 people will have gone on to benefit from these training courses.
A new vision for community
Gorkha Rehabiliation And Community Empowerment [GRACE]
Many more people in Nepal are now living with a disability as a result of earthquake injuries. One man called Jit was buried up to his waist by a landslide. He was rescued by friends but couldn’t get medical treatment because he couldn’t afford it. Sadly this has meant his injuries got much worse and Jit had to have his leg amputated at Green Pastures Hospital.
In Gorkha district, there are many people like Jit who are living with disabilities, both people recently disabled by the Nepal earthquake, as well as those with existing conditions for whom life has got even harder. They face many challenges, including finding work, affording the right healthcare, accessing government services and earthquake-related support, and feeling isolated or excluded.
The aim of GRACE
The aim of the GRACE project is to see people with disabilities living life to the full in inclusive, welcoming communities where they can be fully active members of society. In the areas where INF will be working, around 4% of the population have a disability, which is much higher than the national average.
Over the next few years, GRACE aims to build over 100 earthquake-resistant houses for people with disabilities, as well as five special education schools. The team are also working with two partner organisations and hope to reach around 2,000 people through a network of 90 Self Help Groups. Support and training will be given in areas such as education, health and finding work, to help people with disabilities become valued and active members of their community. Advocacy is also an important part of this project.
Members of the GRACE team will be working alongside district authorities and other service providers. This will ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are taken into account at every stage of planning and rebuilding for community buildings, roads and local transport.
A workshop called ‘In His Image’ was held for around 30 people from different churches, Christian organisations, and individuals with disability, from across Nepal. Following on from this, the team are preparing training materials and running further workshops for churches, to teach on the inclusion of people with disabilities – recognising that the body of Christ is not complete without them.
Life after the Nepal Earthquake
In the first winter after the Nepal earthquake, lots of people were still living in temporary accommodation. Their homes were too badly damaged or they were simply scared to sleep inside. Snowstorms in January affected a number of communities very severely, damaging shelters and exposing people to the bitter cold.
INF’s partner ACN responded to the government’s request for help. Despite the difficulties of sourcing materials due to the fuel crisis, nearly 3,500 households received much-needed warm clothing, blankets and hats to protect them from the cold.
In Srinathkot, people began to get on with their day to day lives. Helen, who travelled to the area shares:
"It was quite humbling to see how people are making do with what they have. There are also encouraging signs that people are getting on with their lives in the best way possible under the circumstances. We saw healthy babies born since the earthquake, surviving animals, fields being prepared for ploughing, and then being planted with maize."
INF was able to respond to the Nepal earthquake extremely quickly and effectively because of our Disaster Relief Fund. If you would like to help us make a difference when future disasters strike, you can make a donation using the form below.
Nepal Earthquake Facts
- The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8 struck just before midday [local time] on Saturday 25 April
- It was the first major earthquake in Nepal for over 80 years
- The epicentre was 80 km from the capital, Kathmandu, which moved 1.5 meters south from its original position
- The second quake happened near Everest on Tuesday 12 May
- There were hundreds of aftershocks following the first earthquake
- About 8,800 people died in collapsed building, landslides and avalanches
- Nearly 22,000 people were injured
- It is estimated that over 800,000 people were affected
- Many historic buildings were damaged or destroyed
- Half a million homes were destroyed, with some villages in remote areas being completely flattened
INF’s relief effort
- Within 48 hours our medical team was treating around 500 injured people in Gorkha, near the epicentre
- INF gave initial emergency relief to more than 3,000 families
- We distributed in excess of 65 tonnes of food within the first few weeks
- We provided temporary shelter to over 840 families
- More than 4,450 blankets helped to keep people warm
- Other essentials, from matches to mattresses, were given to those in need
- Green Pastures Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre received and treated casualties of the earthquake