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Tearfund launches earthquake-resistant houses in Nepal

19 February 2016


Bleak: Ms Syangtang in her current temporary shelter

Bleak: Ms Syangtang in her current temporary shelter

THE Tearfund aid agency has become the first in Nepal to start constructing earthquake-resistant houses, after extended talks with the community and the government.

Tearfund laid the foundation stone of the first of 677 new permanent homes in Makwanpur, in the Tistung and Agra districts, at the end of last month. The charity signed an agreement with the Nepalese government to begin building the homes, which are being funded by the Disasters Emergency Committee.

In April 2015, an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude struck between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara. Thousands were killed, and many more were injured and left homeless (News, 27 April). A second earthquake, on 12 May, caused more damage, and left a further 100 people dead (News, 15 May).

One survivor, Thuli Maya Syangtang, aged 77, who helped to lay the first stone in an inauguration ceremony last week, will live in one of the new homes. “After the earthquake, I used to cry, thinking I would never get my house back. I didn’t know where to go for help,” she said. “Now I am happy. I look forward to living here.”

Ms Syangtang was out in the fields at the time of the earthquake, and returned to find her house flattened. She has been living under a temporary steel ever since.

The deanery of Nepal said this month that “little has changed” for the country since the disaster, and that thousands in the mountainous regions were still living in tents and shelters, many of whom were vulnerable to the cold.

The political situation of Nepal continued to be in “limbo”, and a blockade at the border between Nepal and India had caused “huge shortages” of essential supplies, the deanery said.

Tearfund has provided more than 15,000 families with building materials, and guidance on how to repair homes and build shelters, since the earthquake. It has also been in consultation with the government on how to construct hundreds of new homes to suit the needs of the community.

Tearfund’s country director in Nepal, Douwe Dijkstra, said that the first stone marked a milestone since the earthquake nine months ago. “We are hopeful that the masons we have trained, and community work we have undertaken, will help hundreds more to rebuild their homes and live in safety,” he said.

Stamford Churches Together (SCT) has launched an appeal to rebuild two houses in Nepal to be resistant to earthquakes. SCT is raising funds for the Leprosy Mission (England and Wales), in Peterborough, to help rebuild the poorest hillside villages, where many are affected by the condition, and where 90 per cent of homes were destroyed.

The churches are holding collections, raffles, and evening activities, with a minimum target of £5000, which would cover the cost of two houses.

For further information, phone 01733 370505, or visit www.leprosymission.org.

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