Pralhad Dhakal is Adara’s Nepal Country Director. We interviewed Pralhad to learn more about Ghangfedi, a local area Adara is helping recover from the devastating Nepal earthquakes, the work his team is doing, and who inspires him.
1. Can you tell me about Ghangfedi and the people who live there?
Ghangfedi is a very remote, left out and needy Village Development Committee (VDC) in the Nuwakot district. It is some five hours drive from Kathmandu and then you have to walk to get to the different villages. Ghangfedi comprises of nine wards, which are home to around 765 households and more than 4,000 people. The literacy rate is less than 11 percent, and most people rely on subsistence farming to survive but have very low agricultural production due to limited and poor arable land. The people of the VDC are ethnic Tamang and Sherpa of Buddhist background. There is no electricity, no telecommunication network and no roads that can be accessed by motor vehicles within the VDC. Most people have no toilets and still use wood as cooking fuel.
2. What hardships did they face before the earthquake?
Settlements of Ghangfedi are in a very volatile geographical landscape where they are highly prone to natural disasters like floods and landslides. Many villagers have lost their lives to such natural disasters in the past. Due to limited and poor arable land, they always have food insecurity and live in poverty with no other source of income. For many years, human traffickers have taken advantage of their poverty, and many young girls from Ghangfedi were trafficked and sold to brothels in India. This village has a bad image as one the villages where the trafficking of girls started in Nepal, and it remains a problem today.
3. What kind of damage did the earthquake cause to the area and the people?
100 percent of villagers’ homes, 13 schools and 1 health post were totally destroyed by the earthquakes. 82 people lost their lives. Almost 30 families are displaced and are sheltering in different parts of Kathmandu while their family members are hospitalised due to severe injuries. Out of the nine wards only one is safe to live in, while the rest are vulnerable to floods and landslide.
4. What is Adara doing to help Ghangfedi?
In order not to spread ourselves too thin we are focusing on Ghangfedi alone for food, shelter, education, and sanitation projects. Our medical teams have been treating thousands of people in different earthquake affected regions, including Ghangfedi where we treated 140 people and provided psychosocial counselling to 44 children.
On Friday, we distributed zinc sheets to every household in Ghangfedi to be used as temporary shelter to get through the monsoon season. These sheets can be reused when the people rebuild their houses. We also distributed rice to everyone in Ghangfedi so that they don’t go hungry. We are also distributing water purifying tablets and sanitation materials like soaps to prevent outbreaks of epidemics.
5. When is the monsoon coming? What does that mean for Nepal as it recovers from the earthquake?
Pre-monsoon was in the first week of June, and the monsoon will come any day. It is like adding fuel to the flame, and will invite more natural disasters like landslides and floods which will lead to obstruction of roads, shortage of food, loss of lives and property and even more hardships to the Nepali people. I can’t stop thinking about Ghangfedi when we talk about the coming of the monsoon season. All the settlements are in such a vulnerable situation that I am really worried of possible floods and landslides when the monsoon hits.
6. Can you share a story that has inspired you?
There are so many things to be inspired by. The earthquake was a national tragedy and such a great blow to an already struggling nation. In spite of the tragedy, it was amazing to see how the Nepali people came together to show generosity and extend a helping hand in the face of catastrophe. It was inspiring to see the resilience of people even though many had lost everything.
One person in particular who is very inspiring to me is Adara’s mobile medical camp driver, Budhiman Tamang. Even though his house was destroyed and his family are spending their nights under the open sky, he is working hard to help others. He is not only driving us through bumpy and dangerous roads to get to remote villages but he also works tirelessly all day every day to help our medical team provide treatment to earthquake victims.
Sun Bahadur Tamang of Ghangfedi is very inspiring as well. Like all the people of Ghangfedi, his house was completely destroyed. His daughter and daughter-in-law are both badly injured and are hospitalized. He is currently displaced and sheltering somewhere in Kathmandu under a tent, but he has been working tirelessly with us right from the beginning in this relief effort to help as many people as possible.