While scores of people continue to take shelter under the open skies after the big jolt of Tuesday, people like Som Bahadur Tamang of Upper Kallabari, Nagarjun municipality, have started rebuilding temporary housings.
After losing his home during the devastating earthquake of April 25, 55-year-old Tamang is now busy constructing temporary shelter beside his devastated home utilising available resources — including old zinc sheets (jasta pata) that he salvaged from his destroyed property, bamboo and wood.
When nature’s wrath was unleashed, a majority of houses made up of mud, stones and bricks — like that of Tamang — were completely destroyed in the Upper Kallabari village of recently announced Nagarjun municipality in the Capital city.
However, rather than brood over what has been lost, Tamang is busy giving finishing touches to his temporary shelter. Following Tamang’s footsteps, three other families displaced after the quake have been constructing such temporary shelters so they can return to their ‘own homes’.
“It feels good knowing I have motivated other families in the village to rebuild their houses,” said Tamang, with a smile.
In an exemplary display of communities coming together in the face of such hardship, villagers have been helping each other build such temporary shelters. With this, Upper Kallabari village, which had lost more than 40 houses in the earthquake, is gradually returning towards normalcy.
At a time when the government has pledged to construct houses for the earthquake victims within two years but is yet to come up with a plan to build temporary shelters, people like Tamang have taken it upon themselves to build temporary shelters, as the monsoon is approaching fast.
The government and some aid agencies have distributed tents and tarpaulin sheets in Kallabari village. “However, it won’t be possible to live in the tents during the monsoon,” Tamang said and added, “If we build temporary shelters on our own, we will be safer during the rainy season because building a new house before the rainy season is simply impossible.”
Going by the official figures, around 600,000 houses have suffered either partial or complete damage. Majority of those who have been displaced in the affected districts are seeking government support in building shelters. In this regard, people like Tamang offer examples of finding strength in any adversity.
While some affected districts are reportedly yet to even receive relief materials like tents, tarpaulin sheets and food items, it seems unlikely that the government will be able to construct temporary shelters in such areas before the onset of monsoon.
In this situation, perhaps the affected population can learn from the people of Kallabari village and start building temporary shelters themselves.