Ujali Kumari

Ujali’s family is one of more than 900,000 households whose homes were damaged or destroyed during the earthquake.

Ujali Kumari, her mother-in-law Ses Kumari, Ujali’s husband and their four grown-up children, are camping in what used to be a goat shelter next to the remains of the family home near Kalikasthan, in Rasuwa district.

Their home was severely damaged by the earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April. At the time, Ujali was working as a day labourer on the rice harvest. She ran home as fast as she could in her bare feet. Her friend, working in slip-on shoes, was slower, and was killed by falling masonry.

The family of seven is now living  in a temporary shelter made from salvaged materials and a tarpaulin from the Nepal Red Cross Society.

“We’re grateful for everything we’ve been given. The tarpaulin is the best thing because our shelter was open to the elements before,” says Ujali.

Their thoughts have not turned to rebuilding their home yet. The first step will be to build a simple structure of donated corrugated iron sheeting. It will be hot in summer and freezing in winter, but they’ll feel safer there than under mud or stone.

They’ll need to hire someone to help them rebuild their permanent house and that will cost money. Labour costs have risen since the earthquake because of increased demand. The family might get a loan from a microfinance mothers’ group or Dalit (pejoratively known as untouchables) organisation. Her husband works in a traditional Dalit occupation, making knives and sickles.

Ujali’s family is one of more than 900,000 households whose homes were damaged or destroyed. In the emergency phase, the Red Cross distributed more than 111,000 tarpaulins, to help shelter more than 550,000 people. The Red Cross also reached more than 139,000 people with relief kits containing blankets, kitchen equipment and tools for building temporary shelters.

Six months after the disaster, the Red Cross is making plans to support families with a winterization package – it will help them with warm clothes, blankets and fuel.

To support longer term rebuilding, the Red Cross will training builders, masons and ordinary people to construct earthquake-resistant houses. This will help people rebuild their own houses in a safer way and also gives them marketable skills in the mammoth rebuilding effort.

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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies