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Renuka Shrestha recalled the moment when the earthquake hit her

Nepali village: “I was reading a book. Suddenly everything was shaking and I was so afraid. I tried to escape, but my home was gone and there was nowhere really to go. It was such a difficult a time. I cried a lot with my family. Even though we were together, we couldn’t do anything, we didn’t know what to do.” Ever since the earthquake on April 25, 2015, the strongest in recent

memory at magnitude 7.8, life is different—even as relief and rebuilding continues in this impoverished country. More than 8,460 were killed and 480,000 homes destroyed, many in

remote areas of the country. ELCA partners in Nepal—the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Lutheran World Relief and the United Mission to Nepal—reached out after the disaster to care for those affected, providing temporary shelter and emergency food assistance to more than 30,000 individuals. Gifts from ELCA members and congregations to Lutheran Disaster Response helped fund some of this work. A second major earthquake struck Nepal May 12, 2015, with almost

400 aftershocks, causing continued waves of panic among people near the epicenters. ELCA companions and members responded again.


Life after the earthquake

Rebuilding communities Now, just over a year after the first quake and with aftershocks still rattling people’s nerves, life is slowly getting back to normal. But it’s a new normal, one in which people are continually reminded of the great destruction disasters bring. In Tawal, located in the northern Dhading District and close to the

epicenter of the earthquake, Angela Tamang’s house was among some 300 that were destroyed or badly damaged. It has taken awhile to get established again and, “for now, that’s how we’re surviving,” she said, pointing to a tin (galvanized metal sheet) temporary shelter positioned on leased land. “We are grateful for the Christian organizations that have helped us

during this time,” said Tamang, who remembers initially receiving food and tents from them. “Afterward, we received seed, galvanized sheets for the temporary shelter and winterization materials.” Tamang’s farming family is confronting another reality that has made

recovery difficult—water is scarce. Tawal hasn’t had much rainfall this season, and water from the mountain is no longer reliable since the source was disrupted by the earthquake, she said. “Fortunately no one in the family was killed or injured,” she added. “But

all we want to do is rebuild our home and life.” Now the Nepali government is poised to provide $2,000 to each family,

like the Tamangs, to rebuild their destroyed homes. This is coupled with the requirement that the houses be built with earthquake-resistant features. The ELCA partner organizations’ major focuses have been working

Angela Tamang’s home was destroyed in the Nepal earthquake in April 2015. Now residing in a temporary structure, her family is waiting for government funding to rebuild.

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among the marginalized Nepalese, such as the Dalit (the outcasts in the traditional Hindu communities). “[The Dalit] are poor already and socially marginalized,” said Roshni Paryar of Kusumpariyar Thali village. “We are at the bottom of everything, even when the disaster struck. LWF was the only one who came to provide for us.” The LWF brought mats and blankets, hygiene training, medicines and

seeds to help with vegetable farming. While the LWF is now providing small business grants for individuals

to reposition themselves anew with their shops and trades, plans are being made to provide training and education grants to help Dalit


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