“My family and I spent many nights in the makeshift shelter we had built," explained Tek. "It was a terrifying experience. We needed a proper shelter. We needed a proper home." This is what Tek - a 70-year-old man who lost his home in the earthquake - told us.
Since the two earthquakes hit Nepal in April, thousands of homeless families like Tek's have been struggling to survive, using whatever materials they can find to make makeshift shelters. But these are not strong enough to protect them against the monsoon rains. We've been giving out toolkits and materials to help families build strong temporary shelters. Here we share the stories of three families we've helped - and what their new homes mean to them.
So far we've helped build over 2,100 temporary shelters, that can last up to three years, until permanent new homes can be built. This support has been absolutely vital - both physically to keep families safe from bitter winds and monsoon rains, and also psychologically - to give them somewhere they can feel safe and call home.
Laxmi's makeshift shelter wouldn't keep the rain out
Laxmi’s home was completely destroyed by the quakes, along with all her family’s belongings. But with a tool kit and materials donated by ActionAid, they’ve been able to build a safe temporary shelter.
Laxmi says: "It may not be a lot in terms of cash, but it has made million dollars worth of difference to us. What has helped us most has been the corrugated iron sheeting. Until four days ago we were staying under plastic tarps, and it was impossible to keep the rain out.
"We had seen the worst of life," she continues, "and we needed a place to have proper family time and feel secure again. The tool kit allowed us to put the pieces together and make that happen. It gave us hope."
Though her children are severely traumatised by their experience, Laxmi’s husband Basu says that their children have learned an important lesson and hopes that their generation will help to make Nepal more earthquake resilient. "After the quake they now know that it wasn't the earthquake that killed us, it was the structures we created that did. My children are aware that we need to build better in future."
Isha slept under a tarp for six weeks
When the earthquake struck three months ago, five-year-old Isha was at a water tap with her mother, little brother and grandfather. She burst into tears when she saw her family's home crumble. All of the family's belongings were trapped inside, most of them ruined.
Isha spent six weeks sleeping underneath a plastic tarp, exposed to the elements, but she and her family are now living in a sturdy shelter of corrugated iron sheeting provided by ActionAid and our local partners.
While outside under the plastic sheeting, Isha said she was plagued by nightmares of earthquakes and was too scared to sleep. Now she says that she feels much safer and can dream again without fear.
Tek thought the wind and rain would kill his family
At 70 years old, Tek was also made homeless by the earthquakes. He has recently moved into an ActionAid temporary shelter from a makeshift one. “Thankfully all my family were at work when the earthquake happened,” he explains, “but we cried so much because our house was gone.”
Tek felt very afraid when he was living in the makeshift shelter, because the monsoon season had just started. He explained, "At one point in time, we thought that even though we had been saved from the earthquake, the wind and the rain might kill us."
“We were also running short of food," he continues. "ActionAid reached us in time though and we were so happy and grateful. Just a few weeks later, ActionAid helped us build a safe temporary shelter. Our temporary home is much safer than the makeshift one but I still mourn my old home. I put my heart and soul into building that house and I still feel connected to it even though its gone."
Help us to help more families
To all those who have supported our appeal so far – thank you so much. It is down to you that families like Isha, Laxmi and Tek’s have been able to create somewhere safe to live and – in Laxmi’s words – ‘put the pieces back together’. We still have such a long way to go though. There are so many more families who are still living in fear in unstable structures, longing for a safe place to call home.
If you haven’t donated yet, or would like to donate again, please give whatever you can today, to help us provide more families with the tools they need to build a safe home.