An earthquake-proof home for Thiramaya

April 20, 2016
by 
Kelly Di Domenico

Thiramaya is 103-years-old and lives in Thokarpa-7, Sindhupalchowk in Nepal. One morning, she suddenly heard a loud noise that she believed to be a helicopter passing low over her home – which was something unusual. She can’t walk on her own, and normally people have to carry her from one place to another, but that day she managed to limp outside to so she could see the helicopter. This was when her house collapsed and she realized she had survived an earthquake.

© Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas. Thiramaya Garti Chetri, 103, has survived two earthquakes in her lifetime, the one that struck Nepal in 2015 and one in 1934. Her house was destroyed and she received aid from Development and Peace.

Within days of the April 25th earthquake, Development and Peace launched a joint emergency appeal with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for funds to help people like Thiramaya cope with the aftermath. What people needed desperately was some form of shelter, either because their homes were lost and damaged or because they were too afraid to sleep inside in fear another strong tremor would make their house collapse. Instead, people were braving the elements and sleeping outside.

Thiramaya was very lucky to survive the 2015 earthquake, which killed almost 9,000 people, but she lost her home and many possessions. Caritas gave  her blankets, a mattress, a cooking kit, water purification tablets and personal hygiene items soon after the disaster. She was also provided with corrugated iron sheeting for a temporary shelter.

Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, Development and Peace collected $4.8 million to help those most affected rebuild their lives. Over the course of three years, our program aims to do everything possible to help Nepalese have a stable life by providing shelter, cash-for-work activities, restoring safe water outlets, and hygiene and sanitation facilities. There is also a focus on safety by investing in building up the resilience of communities so they can face future disasters, and in trainings on protection issues.

Through this program, Thiramaya will receive a new earthquake-proof home in which she will have access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. The program also aims to restore agricultural and economic activities and gives special attention to the fight against human trafficking.

© Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas. Development and Peace and its Caritas partners working in the country provided food baskets, water, sanitation and hygiene kits, wheat seeds and CGI sheets to residents who lost their houses during the earthquake.

Thiramaya is a survivor in many respects. She has outlived her husband and one of her sons. This wasn’t her first earthquake. She remembers the massive destruction inflicted by the 8.0 magnitude Nepal-Bihar earthquake which hit Nepal in 1934.

She is thankful for the help she has received from Development and Peace, but she has one wish: “Before I die if I hope I will see a home rebuilt for my daughter. I will be pleased and my soul will rest peacefully.”