Post Earthquake and me

  1. Short overview of what you are doing. Do you have an organization name?

My name is Raman Krishna Maharjan and I am a volunteer of Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) and have been involving for more than 8 years. Soon after earthquake on 2072/01/12, I contacted NRCS Kathmandu District Chapter. After 3rd day of quake, I was deployed to Sankhu, Kathamndu; the most affected region within Kathmandu for search and rescue.

On 4th day, I was deployed to Sindhupalchok; the most affected district for first aid and relief distribution for 2 weeks.

I have my own social service organization named “Onus Nepal”. While I was in Sindhupalchok, Onus Nepal, in 1st phage had distributed hygiene package to all the affected families of Kirtipur Municipality, Kathmandu through local disaster management committees.

During our hygiene package distribution, we found that children were psychologically more affected. Schools were closed and they had nothing to do other than stay in tents. So, in 2nd phage, after my return from Sindhupalchok, we organized child care program. It included drawing, collage, singing, dancing, poem and storytelling and talent shows. We ran this program for 1 week in two different places of Kirtipur.

There were more than 30 volunteers involved in these programs. Most of them were from affected families. So, in order to support them mentally, we organized “Psychosocial First Aid” workshop for them.

Now, we are focusing on senior citizens. We have observed that they have not recovered from the quake and most of them are still in shock. They get very much afraid even at minor aftershocks that are coming still today. So, we discussed with other stakeholders and came to the conclusion that the best way to support senior citizens is through Adhyatmaa.

So, we are going to organize a lecture session to support them mentally. And the lecturer is non -other than Doctor Vikashananda.

Moreover, now we are in the phage of reconstruction. Most of the people are involved in demolishing the damaged buildings and building temporary tents. So , we are planning to distribute helmets, gloves and masks to those people.

  1. How long did it take for you guys to come together and work on the issue? How many of you are working together?

In case of NRCS, it took less than 3 hours to come together and respond as soon as possible.

While in case of Onus Nepal, it took us 24 hours to come together. We had no concrete plans to work on the issue. No doubt that each one of us eagerly wanted to do something. But we had no budget and plans.

Then, we reached out to friends and well-wishers that were living abroad. Even they were desperate to help but they didn’t have idea how to. With their help, after 10 days, we distributed hygiene packages.

Onus Nepal has 9 board members, 1 advisor and more than 30 volunteers that are being actively involved.

  1. How did you choose the theme (cultural heritage, sanitation, temporary shelters, food materials) AND geographical areas that you are working on?

We thought that earthquake had just gone, but the disaster was still to come. We were concerned with the immediate future after the quake. We were worried about the health condition and epidemic that was most likely to occur. So, to mitigate the upcoming disaster, we choose hygiene and sanitation as our theme for response.

All of our members and volunteers are from Kirtipur Municipality. Furthermore, we have been working considering Kirtipur Municipality as our working area. Moreover, many villages of Kirtipur Municipality were badly affected. So, we prioritize Kirtipur for disaster response.

  1. What have you learned after the relief work? About Nepal? About yourself? About your community?

It had been a great experience getting out of our comfort zone and working in the relief work.

The world recognizes Nepal as under-developed country. Some might compare situation here with that of Haiti. Even I thought that it will take months for response by government and reaching the affected people. But it was not so. Yes, it was not quick enough, but it was also not much late for the response by the government.

What I learned from my relief work is that any kind of help or support that you can do regardless of your economic and physical condition might be life saving for affected people.

In mine and most of communities, what I observed is that even though one’s house was damaged, he/she was helping other families for rescue and health treatment. Community members regardless of their religion, caste and economic condition, they were sharing the same tent and same food. Yes there was no any other option, but it didn’t bother them. Each family was concerned with other’s loss.

The most important thing about Nepal and what others should learn from Nepal Earthquake is that we did not forget to smile even in disaster like this.

  1. If you had to repeat the experience of relief work, what would you have done differently?

If I had to repeat all these, I would definitely focus on the coordination part. While I was in Sindhupalchok, there were more than 20 NGOs/INGOs involved in relief work. But due to poor coordination among them and with local government, relief materials weren’t distributed soon and there were some community that got nothing at all as relief material.

  1. How have you coordination with other teams doing similar/different work post Nepal Earthquake?

Local government puts the record of all the organization that is working in relief work along with their type of response. Now there is policy that each and every organization has to work with permission from the government. So, we can get the name of organization that are working with the same theme as ours and can jointly organize.

Apparently, in our child care program, we coordinated with local organization and jointly organized in one of our two target area.

7. Did you meet army, government, or large NGOs when you were working in the field and how did you coordinate with them? How did you interact with them?

While working through NRCS, we definitely met army, government and large NGOs like Shelter Box, WFP, Save the Children, etc. But the coordination part was done by responsible member of NRCS.

And through Onus Nepal, we didn’t meet army and other NGOs. In our child care program at Chovar, Kirtipur, we met few members of political party. On our 1st day there, they just observed our program. Later, they told us they wanted to support us and they helped us in fooding to children.