I joined the ‘walls’ team on my first day on All Hands Project Nepal. Building the walls is the final stage of the construction process undertaken by All Hands and takes place after the foundations have been dug and the structure put up.
Unfortunately the Nepalese government don’t allow NGO’s to construct permanent structures. I guess this is because they don’t want to take away the jobs from local people but in my eyes it does seem like a shame.
With these rules, All Hands construct the main structure and use wire mesh as temporary walls which will prevent the “real” walls from caving inwards if another earthquake was to occur.
My job was to cut the wire mesh to size, secure it in to position with clamps and then using different length wires, tie the mesh to the steel structure. Fencing was part of my job on the cattle station so I knew a little about cutting and tying wire and after a while I became fairly simple.
The house I was working on belonged to a family with an eight year old daughter Pratima. They live in the village of Bansbari which is around 45 minutes drive up from Melamchi in the hills of the Himalayas. The family lost all their animals in the earthquake which they rely on for food and to provide money.
Not only that they also lost their house and outbuildings. Sadly four children were also killed as the house fell. I sat down with Chanchali, the wife/mother of this home one lunch time and she told me how she lost everything.
It was heartbreaking to see her break in to tears as she told her story and explain how her and her husband feel responsible for the deaths of the children who were neighbours and relatives.
I was working on the walls of the family’s new home for just two days and in this short space of time they really touched my heart. Every morning when we arrived all three of them would greet us with the biggest grin on their faces and served us some warming sweet masala tea.
For lunch they laid blankets down for us to sit on and served us the typical Nepalese dish, Daal Bhat, which consists of rice, greens, spicy potato and daal. I’ve been told Chanchali makes the best daal bhat in the area and on our last day she even treated us to chicken. The servings were huge but she still came round to top us up with more.
Her hospitality continued throughout the day with another masala tea mid-afternoon served with some fresh doughnuts she had cooked. Ring doughnuts can be found at most shops in Nepal and are very popular to snack on or to have for breakfast. Unfortunately most are stale and a day or two old but these ones were fresh from the oil.
After a day and a half we had built the family new walls for their house which they will one day finish off. In the meantime it is hoped that they will move into the house and use their existing sheets and tarps for shelter and privacy.
Since loosing over $2000 USD in livestock (a huge amount in Nepal) they now have pigs, two goats, some dogs and a buffalo which provided us with milk for our tea.
Tunga and his family were an absolutely delight to help and taught me to much about the devastating affect of the 2015 earthquake. I will remember their smiling faces for a long time, what a great start to my time with All Hands Volunteers. For details on how to help please visit my donations page.