Sandy Sneddon visited one village affected by the April earthquake in Nepal
Jare is a small village in the south of Dhading district about 60 KM from Kathmandu. Thirty families live and work the land there, a mixed community of various castes and Dalits.
A local organisation, Prayas, has been working with the community for five years. Supported and mentored by United Mission to Nepal Prays has organised the women into a Self Reliant Group that ran a savings club and helped with loans to expand their farming to include goats. The women organised a drinking water supply scheme for the local school, providing much of the labour themselves so that pipes could be laid to bring water to the school. They planted banana and guava trees and split the income between the school and children’s club that Prayas also established. School attendance was poor but as the women became more organised they took turns to accompany the children to school. They also took turns to guard the local forest to prevent illegal logging and enlisted the help of volunteers. As in other places in Nepal some men abuse alcohol, drinking “raksi,” the locally-made spirit. And as in other places this can lead to domestic disputes and violence. The women of the Jare Self Reliant Group started intervening and reconciliation work in the community.
United Mission to Nepal (UMN) has been working with various local groups in Dhading district since 2005. Today they work with nine NGOs, a government school and a farmers’ cooperative. They have helped these organisations develop policies, improve governance and become more sustainable.
At 11.56 on 25 April a massive earthquake struck central Nepal. The men and women of Jare were outside working so amazingly no one was injured. Ninety percent of the buildings were damaged and are unsafe, about a fifth of the houses collapsed. A lot of livestock was killed and all the water sources dried up, except for school drinking water.
With a decade of experience working in Dhading and with long-established relationships with local government, community-based organisations and the communities where they work meant UMN was ideally placed to deliver relief aid quickly and effectively to over 12,000 households, something that was recognised by the communities and the district administration. This was a massive labour and logistical effort – many communities, especially in the mountainous north of Dhading, are very isolated and the existing poor roads and bridges were damaged and blocked by landslides. UMN are finalising a 25 month plan for relief and rebuilding work in five Village Development Councils in the district, three in the north and two in the south, including Pida.
They will be ably assisted by the resourceful women of Jare SRG, amazing, resilient women who have already dome so much to improve the quality of life in their community.
This is one glimpse of one community that was affected by the earthquakes that devastated Nepal in April and May this year. It also shows what our partners are doing
in response, working with communities and community-based organisations to help them rebuild their homes, villages, farms and lives. This will take years and we all have our part to play.
The Church of Scotland co-founded United Mission to Nepal in 1954 and remains a Supporting Partner.