Humanitarian Heroes on the ground
"It would have been impossible for me to rise as a good leader had it not been for the support of my team that was involved in reestablishing the health facilities. My team's energy and enthusiasm propelled me to complete the construction of the four temporary health shelters in Sindhupalchowk district and four semi permanent health shelters in Nuwakot and Gorkha district,'' Says Dawa Sherpa the team leader of the Construction Team.
Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake on 25th April, 2015 that killed around 9,000 people, left thousand others injured while scores of buildings including cultural and heritage sites and health facilities were severally damaged. Following the quake, SWAN Nepal formed a construction team to reestablish health facilities in the country's worst hit areas. With 42 years old Mr. Dawa Shepa as its team leader, it mobilized a team with an objective to reconstruct the health facilities. This was done with an aim to resume basic health care services at the community level where health facilities had been reduced to rubble.
SWAN was the first local NGO in Sindhupalchowk district to start the renovation work. "With the help of a dedicated team, we successfully constructed four temporary health facilities in four VDCs; Simpalkavre, Hagam, Batase and Bramchi," Shares Dawa. He adds, "At that time, our building with a 3-room space was better and safer than the tents. We carried out the reconstruction with CGI sheets and local materials such as bamboo, wood etc. If I remember clearly, Sindhupalchowk was in a chaotic and a pitiful state when we visited on the 1st of June, 2015. To add to the woes was the monsoon and frequent aftershocks. Landslides triggered by heavy rainfall made it difficult to ferry the construction materials but somehow we did manage to get a few things done."
Dawa recalls that the team had taken utensils, food items, sleeping sheets and tents for themselves. All the members worked from 6 AM in the morning to 7 PM in the evening. Krishna Karki, Founder/Chairman of SWAN says, "SWAN has been able to take credit of assisting earthquake survivors in the hard-hit areas which weren't reached by the government or other big NGOs because of the undying energy and the relentless effort made by the squad.
The lack of corporation by the locals did make the task challenging. But people were compelled to appreciate their work after having seen the building stand in 3 days time. The members of the group were even felicitated by the local people with Khadaa and Tika.
2 semi permanent health shelters in Kalyanpur VDC and Thaap Samari VDC of Nuwakot were easier to construct in comparison to Sindhupalchowk. However, heavy rainfall blocked roads leading to Thaap Samari VDC, located on the hills.
Gorkha had similar troubles but the team managed to successfully reestablish the 2 semi-permanent health shelters of the district. To make matters worse was India's unofficial trade embargo leading to major shortage of daily essentials and fuel in Nepal which halted the reconstruction work after the completion of the 2 health shelters.
"We aimed to finish reestablishing 15 Health Shelters in Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk districts within 15th December but our mission failed due to the fuel crisis which interrupted transporting building material to the field. The shortage also made travelling difficult and expensive while the extreme rise in food prices added to the already unpleasant experience." Dawa says, "They are still hopeful that the situation will normalize and they will be able to continue their mission to resume basic health care services at the community level."
The entire team went through a series of different experiences during this time. These stand as real heroes who left no stone unturned in carrying out the relief work. SWAN highly recognizes and lauds the team's invaluable contribution toward helping normalize life in the country's most affected areas.
By Prekshya Lamichhane Kunwar, Communication/Documentation Officer, Social Welfare Association of Nepal (SWAN)
December 31, 2015
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