Nirmal Shrestha

More than two months after the quake, Nirmal Shrestha was relieved to move into a camp for people with sensory, mobility and learning impairments

The 25 April earthquake destroyed the home-based business Nirmal Shrestha spent years building up.

He used to teach touch-typing and basic computer skills in Word, Excel and Photoshop to children and adults in English and Nepali

“My youngest student was 12. The oldest was 72. He wanted to communicate with his grandchildren. When he started, he pecked at the keyboard like a chicken. Afterwards, he could touch type,” says Nirmal, 45.

Not only did the earthquake destroy all five of his computers and business. It also destroyed his home. Finding a permanent, disability-friendly house has been impossible for Nirmal, who has used a wheelchair since he received a spinal cord injury when he was 22.

After his home was damaged, his only option was to join dozens of other people living with disabilities among hundreds of strangers camping on a football field. There were no wheelchair-accessible toilets or showers. More than two months after the quake, Nirmal was relieved to move into a camp for people with sensory, mobility and learning impairments, set up by the Nepal Red Cross and  Independent Living Centre for People Living with Disabilities Kathmandu (CIL-Kathmandu), a self-advocacy organisation.

Nirmal says having the support of other people with disabilities has been crucial in improving his morale after the earthquake.

“Prior to moving into this camp, I couldn’t do any work because I felt alone and isolated,” he adds. “Now I have made many friends and I’m encouraged to do more in life.”

Livelihoods programmes will be part of the Nepal Red Cross Society’s earthquake response operation. The earthquake severely disrupted many people’s livelihoods, and most do not have the money to replace assets like computers or agricultural tools. Red Cross livelihoods projects will be guided by community wishes and capacity, and are likely to include distributions of tools and seeds, cash grants, and encouraging micro-finance in women’s groups, which the Nepal Red Cross has been supporting for some time.

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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies