Following the earthquake Devaki Poudel volunteered to support a Red Cross vaccination programme that reached over 600,000 children.
In August, Devaki Poudel joined more than 400 other Nepal Red Cross Society volunteers from the 14 most earthquake-affected districts in Nepal in carrying out a campaign aimed at vaccinating nearly 600,000 children up to 5 years old against measles and rubella.
After humanitarian emergencies such as the 25 April earthquake, preventative public health interventions are as critical as relief distributions. In many cases, they can help prevent secondary disasters such as disease outbreaks. That’s why immunization is part of the Red Cross’ 18-month earthquake recovery plans.
At 35, Devaki has been a single mother since her husband died 13 years ago. Her house was severely damaged in the quake and she received blankets and shelter materials from the Red Cross. She’s seen more loss in her life than many.
“I wanted to be educated,” she said. “I have a voice; I wanted to be a singer. But I got married at 15 and had to leave school after grade eight.”
When her children were very small, they both got measles, making a tough situation even harder.
“I got up at midnight one time, because I was scared and wanted to turn on the light,” she said. “I felt particularly down, and was wondering why I was even alive. Then I turned around and the light was shining on my children’s faces. I realized I needed to be alive for them. I want them to be educated. It is because of them I have been able to be strong, even after the earthquake.”
Devaki’s children recovered fully from the illness. But before widespread vaccination campaigns, measles caused millions of complications and deaths worldwide. The volunteers will distribute information, organize school rallies and communicate about the campaign, which is run by the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and the Nepal Red Cross Society.