As World Humanitarian Day on the 19th August shines a spotlight on those helping people in crisis, we wanted to celebrate ActionAid staff and volunteers from Nepal who jumped into action when the devastating earthquakes struck earlier this year.
From an amazing boy helping other kids cope, to an inspirational women defending women's rights - these are some of our humanitarian heroes from Nepal who've been leading the emergency response in their communities and beyond. We think they're pretty special. We hope you do too.
13-year-old Sumit is helping children recover from the trauma
Humanitarian heroes come in all ages and 13-year-old Sumit from Nepal is a huge inspiration to us. He was on his way home when the first earthquake struck, killing over 8,000 people. He said; “The earth began to shake and I felt so afraid… this was like nothing I’d ever known.” Sumit found that a lot of the smaller children were scared too and had been struggling to overcome this fear.
Despite being so young himself, he wanted to help so he went from tent to tent to support the younger kids by chatting to them and playing games to give them some normality. “It makes me feel really happy to help children who are younger than me,” Sumit told us. “The little ones are still scared and I want to help them overcome that.”
For thousands of children in Nepal, the earthquakes completely turned their lives upside down. ActionAid sets up children’s tents to give kids a safe place to eat, learn, play and come to terms with their trauma.
17-year-old Bibi is helping build shelters
17-year-old Bibi’s home collapsed because of the earthquake but thankfully her family all survived. What struck her in the immediate aftermath was the sadness that engulfed people. She said; “Some of my neighbours had been dug out of their collapsed houses and there were so many horrible stories that were so hard to listen to.”
Bibi, with the help of ActionAid, built her family a temporary shelter but she didn’t stop there. She saw how many other people without anywhere to live were struggling. “I realised at that time that it wasn’t just my house that was important – I wanted to help my neighbors and community, so I started volunteering with ActionAid.” Thanks to Bibi and many others like her, so far ActionAid has built over 2,100 temporary shelters to help protect people from the monsoon rains.
39-year-old Malati is making sure women get the support they need
ActionAid women’s rights officer Malati was in the field when the earthquake struck. She couldn’t get to her family and was stuck for days but she knew she had a job to do. She swung into action to ensure that women’s needs were met. She explains, “We talked with the breastfeeding mothers and the pregnant women to understand how we need to support them during that period.” She then made sure that women’s sanitary kits were given out in relief packs and that women had safe spaces they could go.
In the aftermath of the earthquake Malati’s most inspiring moment was eventually returning home to find her mum cooking food for the whole community. She explains, “she was 65 years old but still she had that courage to help, so why not me.”
24-year-old Mina is encouraging women to lead the rebuild
24-year-old Mina is also helping to rebuild her community and believes it’s important that women are at the heart of it. She tells us the most important thing to her is that the feelings of the whole community are taken in to account, especially women, as their voices are too often not heard.
The earthquake devastated lives and Mina is ensuring that everyone feels included in the long term decisions that will help them to recover. “When women get involved in the rebuild it shows that they can be leaders,” she says. “We are setting an example.”
Why not support our humanitarian heroes by donating to our appeal to rebuild Nepal?