25 April 2015. The earth shook in Nepal. Over 8,000 people lost their lives, and more than 22,000 were injured. Uma, a young woman of 19 years old and victim of the earthquake, recalls that fateful day:
"We felt the earth shake. My brother, Umesh was just in front of me. The stable wall collapsed and I was trapped underneath it. I woke up in hospital, with a strange feeling of loss and in a lot of pain. I was missing one of my legs. I then spent a long time at home, in my room, until the day Jay, a Handicap International physiotherapist, came to see me. I was given a prosthesis, I learned to walk again and I did my rehabilitation exercises. It changed my life."
Handicap International has come to the aid of numerous people, victims of the disaster like Uma:
- The organisation has provided more than 16,000 rehabilitation sessions and psychosocial support for more than 6,000 people and has distributed more than 4,700 walking frames, wheelchairs and crutches to the people affected by the disaster.
- The organisation has also distributed over 4,300 kits containing essential non-food items: tents, kitchen kits, hygiene kits, blankets and roofing equipment to build corrugated metal roofs for more than 2,200 families.
- The organisation has handed out warm clothing, blankets, tarpaulins, ropes and mattresses to more than 9,000 people, made vulnerable by the earthquake, during the winter 2015.
- Handicap International has taken responsibility for storing more than 5,400 tons of humanitarian equipment (in Kathmandu, Dhading and Bidur) and for transporting this humanitarian equipment to isolated communities (more than 350 truck transports on behalf of 37 organisations).
- Handicap International has ensured the most vulnerable people have access to the humanitarian services (education, health care etc.) provided by other organisations, notably by raising humanitarian workers' awareness of how important it is to take the most vulnerable into consideration.
- Finally, over 160 households affected by the earthquake have been given goats, providing them with a new source of income. In addition, 294 households have received financial support to help them re-start their business activity (shop, canteen etc.).
Our work in Nepal today
Handicap International is still operating in Nepal:
- The organisation supports five rehabilitation centres where thousands of Nepalese people receive physiotherapy care and orthopaedic fitting. The organisation is also working to improve rehabilitation services in hospitals located in districts impacted by the earthquake.
- The organisation helps victims of the earthquake to find new livelihoods (breeding goats, small shops etc.), in particular by providing financial support. It also helps people with disabilities to find work, providing them with advice and guidance.
- Furthermore, the organisation works with communities and the local authorities to develop emergency relief plans to improve alert and evacuation systems in the event of an emergency. These emergency relief plans take people with disabilities into consideration. The organisation is also setting up a mechanism to immediately deploy healthcare professionals (nurses and doctors etc.) to rapidly assist victims in the event of an earthquake.
- Handicap International improves access to schools for children with disabilities. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the organisation is developing educational materials and tools which are adapted to children with disabilities.
- Finally, the organisation is working to improve the protection and rights of prisoners, as well as their living conditions (access to water and food etc.) and preventing improper treatment (in particular torture) and the long-term after-effects caused by imprisonment.
1 Over 11,000 people.