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28 Aug 19

One from the Archives: After the Earthquakes

Dr Parun Sekhri is a GP working in the UK. When Nepal was hit by two devastating earthquakes in April 2015, Parun headed to Nepal to offer medical assistance. On his return, Parun reported on his experience supporting healthcare provision in Gorkha, an area badly affected by the earthquakes and one in which PHASE Worldwide are still supporting rebuilding projects today. *Article first published in 2015

I found myself drawn to offer assistance to PHASE Worldwide following the earthquake on April 25th 2015. Having volunteered as a GP mentor in 2013, I knew that PHASE Worldwide had health posts in areas badly affected by the earthquake and that the ANMs working in these remote, rural communities might need support and assistance. I was deeply touched after seeing the newspaper articles, BBC news reports and PHASE Worldwide website reports showing the scale of difficulties being faced by the people of Nepal.

After arriving in Nepal, I spent time in Kathmandu, then at a remote, rural health post in Manbu, Gorkha District. I would like to share a short first-hand report on what I have seen and experienced:

Contrast

Walking through the lush, green mountains of Gorkha, with its mountain rivers and bridge crossings, there are villages upon villages that have been totally destroyed by the earthquake. Houses, schools and health clinics have been reduced to rubble. The beauty of the mountains are contrasted by broken houses and the hardship of villagers who find themselves living under tarpaulin sheets. Those who had little now have even less.

Mounting Concerns

I stayed with PHASE Worldwide supported ANMs at their health post in Dhumchet, a village in Manbu. Mothers and fathers with young children, village leaders and community members were concerned. Many of them had lost their homes; their food, clothes, furniture, cooking equipment, rice, seeds and farm animals had all been buried under their fallen houses.

Hope

In Dhumcet, teams of people are building shelters using wood from the forest and corrugated iron sheets, reclaimed from broken homes. They work fast, in teams of 10 to 20 people. Working morning until night they can complete a temporary home for one family in a single day. However, there are 200 families without homes in the village alone. I saw teenagers with absent fathers working alone to build shelters for their families.

The mountain birds still sing and the children still play. The adults work from dawn to dusk to build shelter as the monsoon rains are coming soon.

Support from PHASE

There is hope also in the PHASE Nepal office. Many staff have taken on additional roles since the earthquake. PHASE Nepal is coordinating emergency relief. They are constantly receiving emails, telephone calls, trucks of rice, tarpaulins and medicines to send to their project areas badly affected. A lot of materials have already been delivered, but many more are needed. I am sure large deliveries will take place soon as staff return to their health posts to continue providing primary healthcare.

Medical Work

I mentored the ANMs as they treated fractures and other injuries that are now occurring more frequently as villagers work in dangerous conditions trying to salvage building materials from their dangerously unstable houses. The men in the photo above said that they couldn’t worry about safety, it’s what they have to do. They have no choice.

People have lost their toilets and their kitchens. We have already treated cases of dysentery and one possible case of cholera; we may have saved a 13-year-old girl’s life by giving her antibiotics and IV fluids. The ANMs will have to treat many more injuries and illnesses over the coming months as communities continue to rebuild.

Moving Forward

Aftershocks continue to disturb the peace, and are a constant source of uncertainty and worry among everyone. But amidst the loss and sadness, there is also hope. PHASE Worldwide is supporting communities to rebuild. It may take years for some communities to get back on their feet, but PHASE Worldwide will continue to support them for as long as they are needed.

Written by Parun Sekhri, 2015

For more information on our project work, click here. To read more stories from Nepal click here to be to taken to our Blog.

 


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