#NepalNow : How to rebuild a village post-earthquake

Bhurunchuli villagers Nepal

Villagers crowd into what will soon be a family home

 

In two small rooms in a newly constructed brick structure — soon to be a family home in Bhurunchuli, an hour and a half outside of Kathmandu — it seems the whole village has turned up. The men, women and children are crowded round the doorways and leaning in the window frames, all here to see the bloggers who have come to visit. We’re here to see the post-earthquake rebuilding project, organised by the Creasion non-governmental organisation and supported by Coca-Cola.

I’m here in Nepal with the drinks company on a #NepalNow project, seeing how Coca-Cola contributing to rebuilding and supporting women with its #5by20 project (more on which in later posts). (Coca-Cola is sponsoring BritMums’s travel, accommodations and other expenses in Nepal. All opinions are our own.)

The women in this poor rural village are in gorgeous brightly patterned sarees, some with coloured string woven into the ends of their long black plaits. Some of the men wear topi, the popular soft Nepali hat. After watching three young girls perform a dance, we hear from a community organiser, who speaks emphatically about the value of the new buildings. She even goes so far to say that for this little community, otherwise unnoticed by the national government, the devastating 2015 earthquake was a blessing in disguise. 

 

village women in Bhurunchuli

Community organiser Preeti Tamang (front right) with women of the village

 

In less than 18 months, the public-private partnership led by Creasion, an NGO created by a group of under-30s in the charity sector and involving young people, is well on its way to replacing the 55 homes destroyed by the quake. In addition, the project is building a new bathhouse for women.

A bathhouse that revolutionises life for village women

The bathhouse, called a padhero, serves three purposes. By giving the women a communal building to wash clothes, it provides fellowship and support, a place where they can come share their problems with others while also washing clothes — something that Creasion Founder and CEO Aanand Mishra would make their mothers-in-law happy, no small matter in a close-knit family-oriented community.

 

With Creasion founder Mishra (centre) and Sachin Shrestha, public affairs manager from Coca-Cola Bottlers Nepal

With Creasion founder Mishra (centre) and Sachin Shrestha, public affairs manager from Coca-Cola Bottlers Nepal

The padhero also creates a private space hidden from view where women can bathe. As Mishra tells us, in the rural villages of Nepal women often have to wash themselves in public because of a lack of facilities. That can lead to harassment and sexual violence.

And by using a water system that captures rainwater and stream water from the surrounding hills, it will allow the women to avoid the half hour walk to fetch water, something they sometimes have to do three times a day.

And finally, the Creasion project is also creating toilet facilities in the school, particularly important for girls, who often stop attending school when they start menstruating.

Involving the community

When we arrived at the village up a steep rutted road in a downpour, the villagers had set up a large tarpaulin for a ritual. A woman anointed our foreheads with red dyed rice and smiling children dressed in their Sunday-best clothes handed each of us a beautiful bouquet of ferns, red carnation and white gerbera daisy.

Later, an older man rang chimes and sang melodious prayers as we cast flowers and rice into the foundations of the bathhouse and spread a bit of mortar. Building will start when monsoon rains end. Another man lit a small pyre, the ground around it dusted with dye. It was moving ceremony. 

 

blogger spreading mortar for padhero

Leanette from FuntasticLife.com spreads mortar in the padhero foundation

 

women making bricks Bhurunchuli Nepal

Women have been taught to make the bricks used in building the houses

 

bricks for Bhurunchuli Nepal

The bricks dry for 28 days then they’re ready to use

The incorporation of local religion and customs is not just a nicety. By involving the villagers in the project and creating a sustainable economic structure moving forward, this project demonstrates localism at its best. 

Local women have been taught how to make the bricks, villagers have given input to the architect so the houses suit their needs. It’s these activities that will make the project a success, serve as a model for other villages, with the bricks sold to support the village and the larger project. 

earthquake devastation in Bhurunchuli

A placade on-site shows the earthquake devastation

 

houses built by Creasion in Nepal

The blue roofs mark the houses Creasion is building

 

The same week we visited Bhurunchuli, The Himalayan Times reported that 12,000 earthquake victims of Kavre district received the first instalment of the 50,000 Nepali rupee government relief, for the contruction of houses. Those people will be starting that process.

Standing on the hill opposite the main part of the village, we can see the blue roofs of the villagers’ new houses, nearing completion. They will stand alongside toilet facilities and a building that will transform the life of the women. Even from here, we can see they look like a new beginning.  

We’d love to hear what you think about the project! Leave your comments below.

 

Follow #NepalNow on Twitter and Instagram to see more from Nepal

 

 

 

 

 

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About Jennifer Howze

Jennifer Howze is the Creative Director and co-founder of BritMums. She blogs about family travel at Jenography.net, tweets at @JHowze and Instagrams at @JHowze. Previously, she wrote the Alpha Mummy blog at The Times and as a journalist has contributed to The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, CNN.com, Allure, SELF and Premiere, among others. She won The Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for a health article in Seventeen magazine.

4 Responses to #NepalNow : How to rebuild a village post-earthquake

  1. Bill Karras 21 September 2016 at 22:55 #

    I especially noticed the brick-making; wish we could do that here in New Braunfels, Texas. Isn’t so much like Life, we need an earthquake to bring out the creativity in us!

    • Jennifer Howze 29 September 2016 at 13:52 #

      Bill, it’s an interesting point. For villagers, things are definitely better after the earthquake — they are getting solid, earthquake-proof homes, toilets and a place for washing clothes and showering, something they never had before. x

  2. ellizabeth karras 23 September 2016 at 17:50 #

    Jenn,
    Your story and photos have great appeal and present a hopeful message of what women worldwide can do to help their communities when given the opportunity. Inspiring!

    • Jennifer Howze 29 September 2016 at 13:53 #

      Elizabeth, thank you so much for your comment. I found all the people and the project I encountered incredibly inspiring.