A few days ago we rode out to Nuwakot, about 10 km before Kakani. We hiked up to a small Tamang village, a scattering of houses on a steep hillside. Along the way, both driving and walking, nearly every stone house was partially crumbled, with roofs lying on top of piles of rocks. Sometimes it actually does feel as if one is visiting a place of ancient ruins, where the outlines of homes remain from centuries ago. And over and over, one is reminded that one of the greatest blessings was the timing and day of the earthquake: a Saturday afternoon at noon. Everyone we’ve talked to was outside working when it hit, and they watched their homes collapse, but from the outside.
At the village we visited, after the earthquake the extended family first stayed in their large homemade greenhouse (plastic sheets stretched over a bamboo frame) for a few days, and then in 3 days they used recycled sheets of tin and plywood to make a ‘new’ 3-room dwelling for the family to share. This was where we had lunch; it was cozy and neat, covered with a tarp to make it waterproof. The family was living immediately next to the piles of rocks that had been their home. Asked if they had received any help, they said that there were people who brought tents and food after the earthquake several times. The stories of assistance have been quite inspiring, how so many Nepalis, especially in Kathmandu, put together their own personal deliveries of aid to villages.
In the meantime, the national news is full of reconstruction plans, whether for temples, roads or homes. Families with destroyed houses had first received 7000 rupees from the government ($70). Then the next news was that they would now receive an additional 15,000 ($150), which is being delivered this week. But a recent donor conference resulted in over 4 billion dollars being committed by various countries, and some of that money is going to be allocated so that each family with a destroyed house will receive 15,000,000 rupees. This $15,000 is quite an impressive commitment from the government, and it’s being done in a smart way. It will be doled out in stages and as loans, but the loans will be forgiven as long as people really use the money to build a house AND they build a house according to the specific building standards for earthquake resistance.
Such a process of rebuilding half a million homes will obviously take a long time, but it gives a great sense of hope and progress. They say the money will start being disbursed at the start of the next fiscal year, in the next month and a half.