Help for the present, hope for the future


Jetmah Waiba has been living in Lapsiphedi for decades, in a village that lies northeast of Kathmandu in the mountains. The people who live in the ancient village belong to the ethnic minority group of the Tamang, who are indigenous inhabitants of the Himalayan population. Before the earthquake, Jetmah's family consisted of 11 family members and the income for the whole family came from Jetmah Waiba’s second son, who served as a security guard in the urban district.

Jetmah Waiba talking to Amity staff (left). Jetmah's daughter in law with the granddaughter squatted down on the debris of their former house (right).

After the earthquake, the family's life became a struggle for survival. Jetmah Waiba’s oldest son tragically lost his life during the earthquake, leaving a wife and two children behind. When the own house collapsed during the earthquake no one was further hurt. Now, the old man and his family have no choice but to live in the barn used as a temporary shelter.

Jetmah's son searching the debris for useful material (left). The family is using the barn as temporary shelter (right).

On the 3rd of May, the staff of The Amity Foundation and partners went to Lapsiphedi to research the situation and the demand on the ground. When the rescue workers asked Jetmah Waiba about his family, he told them that his eldest son died and his second son lost his job because of the earthquake. The family did not have any income and lived from the potatoes they stored before. These potatoes could only support the family for two more days and they would be running out of food soon. Desperate and helpless, Jetmah Waiba was additionally afraid of the fact that his family would suffer from psychological trauma and from fear of future disasters.

The Tamang people are an ethnic minority group who speak their own language Tamalang. They often work as Sherpa and live in mountainous and remote areas of the Himalayan region. By living in poverty-stricken regions the Tamang people are especially exposed to the dangers of natural disasters. Because of this and the language barrier they belong to one of the risk-groups that are suffering most after the disastrous earthquake. Especially the women of this underprivileged and patriarchal community are affected most in these days. According to the assessment work of the disaster relief team, 165 families, a total of 950 people were seriously affected by the earthquake. There was the urgent need for food, tarpaulin, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, soap and hygiene products for women.

Villagers walked up to two hours to the distribution point and are eagerly awaiting the supplies, especially the women.

On April 5,  the Amity Foundation delivered a first batch of supplies among the 165 families of the village. Every family received a food package of 2kg rice, 6 bags instant noodles, 12 biscuits packages, a sleeping mat, a blanket, 3 piece of soap and 2 sanitary women products. Additionally 25 pieces of waterproof clothes could be distributed.

Truck with relief supplies had to face a rugged mountain road (left). Amity staff distribute supplies (right).

Villagers carrying relief supplies back to their villages (left). Jetmah Waiba gives Amity staff a smile despite all the pain he suffers (right).

The Amity staff was surprised how much relief supplies although only a few, but desperately needed, can cause. The Tamang women who are usually shy towards strangers were smiling into the cameras when they waited for the supplies and even Jetmah Waiba and his family seemed to regain hope. They have already begun to discuss how to rebuild their homes. Jetmah said, "When the disaster happens the whole family face it together even though it might take us ten years’ time to restore the buildings. We still have the confidence in doing so." Facing the coming monsoon and considering the huge amount of destroyed and damaged houses, the people in Nepal will depend on international support and solidarity to rebuilt their houses.