Friday, April 22, 2016

One Year After...contd.

So tomorrow, in the Nepali calendar, and the day after, in the western calendar, is the first anniversary of the "Great Earthquake" of 2015. A quiet sunny Saturday morning brings back memories of that fateful Saurday last year when the quake, which we knew was expected, finally arrived.

Aftershocks still continue though few are near enough to be felt in Kathmandu. Reconstruction of ruined houses continue, for those who can afford it. The rest still huddle in makeshift shelters waiting and hoping for help from the ineffective government. Around 8,700 people lost their lives. Besides loss of lives and property, the survivors have to deal with the more complicated less discernible effects - from the trauma caused by the quake. An expatriate friend returned to his country with his Nepali family due to the trauma retained by his small daughter. Another young boy I know, very independent and free, insisted on sleeping daily with his mother after the quake. I, myself, have pushed the memory of that deadly minute to the depths of my mind; it is quite unnerving to relive. I was lucky that my granddaughter was only 10 months old and too young to have any after-effects. For those who can remember, every loud noise and every ordinary shake of furniture make the spine tingle and the limbs ready to flee.

Mental health services, never strong in Nepal, did try and offer the maximum psychosocial counseling possible in the wake of the quake. I doubt that it made much of a dent. Psychosocial workers were trained, I gather, and sent to offer services to the neediest. I think they were too few and not all of the training were of the required standard. I can but imagine the trauma-stricken children and adults who still walk around with its after-effects - those who suffer the after-shocks in their minds.

The government National Reconstruction Authority was formed belatedly after much political quibbling and remains still a white elephant. If the newspapers are to be believed, the process of assisting the neediest has commenced. Getting about USD 2,000 to those who lost their houses has proven to be a Herculean task. Apparently the residents of the village of Barpak in Gorkha, the epicenter of the quake, have started rebuilding with what little resources they have. As for the 4.1 billion US dollars pledged by the international community post-earthquake, well, I only wish an objective audit would be carried out to see how many of our leaders would have mud on their faces.

Meanwhile, as per the US Geological Survey's probability analysis done last June, there is still an 80% chance of a 5-6M aftershock until 24 June 2016. There is a 1:200 chance of a quake/aftershock stronger than the original 7.9M; let's not even think about that! 

5 comments:

Kathryn Boyd Loftus said...

This is an excellent article, Birat! It is extremely disturbing that the funds and mental health services have not reached or proved inadequate to the insurmountable task of rebuilding & healing. I am so very sorry for the wonderful people of Nepal.

Birat Simha said...

Thank you, especially for your kind words on the people of Nepal, who ate wonderful and ever so resilient.

Birat Simha said...

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Niraj said...

It is indeed surprising to see just how little had been done over the course of the year... reconstruction seems confined to political speeches... we Nepali people are lil too good in hoping & coping...

Birat Simha said...

Yes, Niraj, our capacity to digest BS, especially of the political kind, seems bottomless.