Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Stories of survival and hope after Nepal's earthquake – a photo essay

‘For six days we stayed on the side of the hill so that we could save ourselves’: photojournalist Kieran Doherty meets people affected by the earthquakes that destroyed parts of Nepal in 2015. He talks to survivors and visits Oxfam projects that are reconstructing the country, including cash for work schemes to build water pipelines and trails to connect remote villages
Since the massive earthquake last April devasted Nepal and its delicate infrastructure, Oxfam has been working to repair trails and renovate access to water supplies, as well as agricultural projects, to help to rebuild the country
A view of west Kathmandu from the Swayambhunath or Sublime Trees temple
A man stands on a hillside in Khoplang
Women rest after carrying rocks, while men construct the trail in Ghairung, Gorkha
Women dig out a new rice field irrigation channel, in place of one destroyed in the earthquake, on a hillside in Dachi Nkali municipality, Kathmandu valley, as part of a cash for work scheme

Bhaktapur, Kathmandu City

In Kathmandu, Oxfam has set up women’s centres providing services for about 250 women in each local area offering group counselling sessions for vulnerable women who were affected during the disaster
A boy sits in an alleyway – the previous month, he had played football in the town square with British footballer David Beckham, who visited the country in his role as Unicef ambassador
The streets of the ancient town of Bhaktapur
A earthquake-damaged building under reconstruction
My house has been completely destroyed by the earthquake and now I am living with my daughter. I was in a room on the first floor of my house when the earthquake hit. It was very hard for me because I was caught. I tried to crawl down the stairs but they had fallen down. I was wedged in, and my daughter-in-law had to pull me out
Dhar Maya, 75, in Kathmandu


Communities living in Ghairung, Gorkha, take part in a cash for work scheme to rebuild a 5km trail. The trail connects two villages, a health centre and a local market, and will provide access for 1,140 households
Women carry rocks along a mountain ledge. The 153 people taking part in the scheme are being paid 510 rupees (about £3.30) per day for 32 days
Carrying the rocks is a very, very difficult job. In the morning, when you start, it feels very heavy but by the afternoon, when you have done the journey 10 or 12 times and you’ve got in the practice, it feels easier. But when you get home, you’ve had your dinner and you’re about to sleep, it really hurts your back, knees and legs
In Jhyamir, one of the two villages, there are 160 households, 80 of which had their houses completely destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. Only two houses in Jhyamir are still safe to live in
This is my favourite image from the trip, of the women carrying stones waiting for me to catch up with them on the hillside
Kieran Doherty, photographer


In Dhading, one of the biggest challenges communities are facing since the earthquake is accessing clean drinking water. After the earthquake lots of age-old water sources that communities had relied on for many years closed up and moved with the shift in land. Communities in remote areas participate in cash for work schemes that pay people to build pipelines from water sources to their villages
A man takes a break from working on a new irrigation channel
Here, a group of 42 households are being paid to build a 4km pipeline to bring clean water to their village
On the day of the earthquake I was sitting at the back of the bus [heading] towards the market place … the bus was swinging from side to side, so I didn’t notice when the earthquake started. Suddenly there was white dust all around and I couldn’t think of anything, I had a kind of high, half-conscious. Ever since that day I have been trying to work out how to get water
Bhakti Bahadur
Januka Bhasnet, 55, digs a trench for a new irrigation waterway. The group has been working on the project for six weeks and the work is half complete. When it is finished, up to 500 people will benefit from the new pipeline


A woman sleeps on top of her winter distribution kit as she waits for transport to help her carry the equipment back to her village further down the mountain. Oxfam was not working in this area before the earthquake, but in nine months has reached 24,000 families in the area, with an average of 5 people per household
A distribution of winter and shelter kits takes place in a school for the 807 people who live in Madanpur
For six days we stayed on the side of the hill so that we could save ourselves. We were so scared; we didn’t know what to do. We stayed on the side of the hill so that if another earthquake happened we would be safe. I am very grateful and very thankful that people from so far away have come and have helped me. I am very happy that everything has been distributed equally
Thulimaya Lama, 56
A group of women waiting for their winter distribution kits


Sindhupalchowk was one of the areas worst hit by the earthquake. Here, the first phase of a project to distribute agricultural products takes places in Lamosangu village, Sindhupalchowk
A man clears away rubble in Sindulapachowk
Vouchers were distributed to 950 beneficiaries in the area, with about 150 distributed per day. Each voucher was worth 2,000 rupees. People could choose items to buy with the vouchers from two local stores
By the end of February, Oxfam had distributed vouchers to 5,000 people. The vouchers not only support the people receiving them, enabling them to restart their kitchen gardens and farms, they also support local traders and store owners, and reignite the local economy
The second phase of the distribution will start later this year, helping people to get livestock and grain storage through cash grants
I looked back towards my village and it looked like the entire village was falling down. There was just dust everywhere. The only thing I could think of was my child. I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened to him. I wanted to get back to the other side of the river but I couldn’t walk because the earth was shaking so much. Finally, I saw my father-in-law holding on to my child and I felt like I could breathe again
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