We asked PHASE Nepal staff members about their experiences since the earthquake in 2015
Rudra Neupane – PHASE Nepal Programme Manager was the Chair of PHASE Nepal board and began working with PHASE on relief activities after the earthquake; soon after he became PHASE Nepal’s Programme Manager.
What has changed at PHASE Nepal, since the earthquake?
“PHASE Nepal’s increased output and pace has stayed high since the earthquake. However, change is gradual,” he reflects. “The relief effort by PHASE was well coordinated but government regulations and bureaucracy have slowed the subsequent reconstruction. Yet this has not stopped us.”
What has changed on the projects and in the villages PHASE works in since the earthquake?
“One year ago, classrooms for 600 Hagam students did not exist. Now, two years on from the earthquake,” Rudra says, “PHASE has built 8 earthquake resistant classrooms in less than 3 months”
“Another positive change has been the water and saniation projects. The earthquake destroyed access to clean water leaving many villagers without drinking water and sanitation. Now two years later PHASE has repaired or built 400 water taps, which benefit over 20,000 people in the Sindhupalchowk region.”
Bikash – PHASE Nepal Project Manager started working at PHASE Nepal as an Assistant Education Trainer in 2013. He recalls the time of the earthquake: “My own house was broken but I felt that I should come to the office. I came and saw that the entire operation had moved out to a tent. I stayed two hours and then went to my home village to see family. On the fourth day after the earthquake, PHASE started buying materials and setting out to help. If there was no PHASE Nepal, I would have dwelled on my own emotions but because PHASE exists I was focused on being able to help. I would come to office at 7 am, and then go to a village to distribute emergency relief and not be back until to one am.”
It has been 2 years since the earthquake, what has changed in your life?
“After the earthquake there were tremors, and for two months my family slept in a tent in the field.” Our house was damaged, but PHASE provided a hardship allowance and by the first anniversary of the earthquake we had mended our house and slowly life has begun to return to normal.”
Since the earthquake, Bikash has celebrated three big family events: his two sisters have gotten married, and he and his wife have welcomed a new baby. At work, Bikash says the earthquake was an opportunity to challenge himself, step out of his comfort zone and show what he was capable of. “Prior to the earthquake I was working on one project and I am currently working on over twelve”. After the earthquake, he became project coordinator and most recently in February 2017, he was promoted to project manager.
What has changed at PHASE since the earthquake?
“PHASE’s goal is to provide integrated development through health, education and livelihood projects. Disaster relief after the earthquake was a new experience, but I think we were very successful. Many people who supported PHASE during the earthquake became interested in what we do; many new, donors and organisations have connected with PHASE and continue to support us and that is why projects have expanded and we are working in many more villages.”
Sajjan – PHASE Nepal Sanitation Project Worker grew up in Yanglikot, Sindhupalchowk, one of the districts severely affected by the earthquake and one of the first villages PHASE worked with. He had learned about PHASE when they supported his school, Jaldevi Secondary School.
After receiving his School Leaving Certificate, he applied to work with PHASE Nepal and had just started working as a social mobiliser when the earthquake hit. Reallocated to work with PiN (People in Need), Sanjay helped distribute materials to displaced households in his home district so that they could prepare for winter.
What has changed since the earthquake?
Sajjan recalls that PHASE Nepal had accomplished so much in Hagam before the earthquake. “Most of the villagers had toilets, more students were attending school, and there was an established health post.”
“PHASE changed the entire environment,” he says. “The earthquake brought everything back to the beginning, destroying most of the established infrastructure. School buildings, homes, the health clinic and water sources were all destroyed.”
Yet two years on Sanjay is hopeful despite the extensive loss. “Within one month of the earthquake, PHASE had provided tents for temporary learning centres (TLCs), school materials for the children, and training to teachers on how to deal with children’s trauma. Now two years on PHASE has rebuilt two of Hagam’s school buildings with plans for a third. PHASE has rebuilt the health post and it is operational again. The project facilitating sanitation and rebuilding water taps is also most complete.”
Sunita– PHASE Nepal Project Manager in Health, recalls the time around the earthquake. She says, “Before the earthquake we worked regular hours, but after, all the staff
were coming very early to the office. We were receiving phone calls from family of staff working in Gorkha wanting to make sure they were okay and wanting them to come home. Despite all this, our team provided immediate relief and support in Gorkha, the epicenter of the earthquake. We exchanged teams bringing staff from Gorkha home to see their families and ensuring we continued to support relief efforts.”
Sunita remembers that PHASE was looking for helicopters to transfer materials but all the helicopters were in use during the day. She remembers, “PHASE staff would go to the airport very early in the morning and queue to receive access to helicopters to transport materials.”
What has changed in the work you do at PHASE Nepal?
Two years on Sunita reflects – “The PHASE central office seems to have returned to normal, but there are big signs of what has changed. So many of the numerous projects PHASE is managing relate directly to earthquake recovery.”
Sunita is now working full time as a project manager for a TRAIL, project, which is rebuilding 65 km of trail destroyed by the earthquake in Gorkha. This infrastructure is crucial for people to access healthcare and is one of the only means of travel for the area. She is also working part time overseeing PHASE’s health projects. She says, “All the PHASE staff are proud to work here, because otherwise we would not have the opportunity to help people affected by the earthquake.”
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