What We Are Doing

A Nepali mother's extraordinary efforts post the earthquake 24 Jun 2015

Written by Pallavi Dhakal, Outreach Communication Specialist for Suaahara, Save the Children Nepal

Before Earthquake:

Ranju Basnet, 20, from the mountainous district of Dolakha was married at a young age, became pregnantand at age 19, gave birth to a baby boy. Despite being young and inexperienced Ranju had a passion to learn and raise her child healthy. Which is why, when the USAID-funded Suaahara program organized group discussions on proper nutrition and healthy behaviors, particularly during the thousand days (a period from conception until the child’s second birthday), Ranju actively participated.

Ranju cultivated herself to become an ideal mother, practicing healthy behaviors promoted by Suaahara program from exclusively breastfeeding her son to introducing nutritious porridge after six months of age, going to regular health checkups and maintaining proper sanitation and hygiene at home. “I want my son to become someone when he grows … and for this I have to make sure he receives the care that he deserves to grow healthy,” Ranju shared.

When Ranju was provided with agriculture inputs (vegetable seeds and five young chicks) and training to maintain improved backyard gardening and poultry, she put her skills to practice and developed a lush garden. Suaahara selected Ranju to become a village model farmer, inspiring many women in her community and teaching the skills she learned about agriculture to them. Ranju was also nominated by her community to be recognized as the local resource person by the Ministry of Agriculture Development. As a local resource person she will be attending training on agriculture provided by the Ministry of Agriculture Development.  

After the Earthquake:

When the massive earthquake struck on April 25, 2015, Ranju was outside working in the vegetable garden and luckily her son was with her. Suddenly, right in front of her eyes, her house collapsed. Ranju cannot imagine what would have happened if she was inside the house. Fortunately, because it was mid-day, everyone including her husband and mother-in-law were working outside, and no one was hurt. However, everything that the family owned was gone with the house.

Despite the tragedy, it is evident that Ranju and her family have not given up; they are determined to normalize their life. From what they could salvage from the remains of their house, Ranju and her family were quick to build a temporary shelter. They, however, had to build the temporary structure in the vegetable garden because they didn’t have enough land. Ranju wants to start planting vegetables again but wishes to receive vegetable seed/seedling support given that her stock was lost with the house.

Immediately after the earthquake, Ranju tried to save her chickens. “I had 18 chickens… but I could only save 5, the rest of them died,” shares Ranju. She is determined to increase the number of the chickens again.

The family has also understood the importance of maintaining hygiene and sanitation particularly in the time of crisis. With their latrine destroyed, they have also constructed a temporary latrine. Ranju is careful and washes her hands with soap and water before feeding her son and cooking. They are also boiling water at home.

After the earthquake, Dolakha has been the epicenter to more than 70 aftershocks measuring more than 4.0 on the Richter scale. Despite the psychological trauma and loss, Ranju is determined to pick herself up and continue living her life normally.

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