ARTIST – CARYS FLETCHER
PHOTOGRAPHER – GAELLE PERICA
INTERVIEW – BHUWAN ROKKA
TRANSLATION – ADITEE BHATTERAI
Megh Rajni Rai
Megh works as a technical specialist in disaster management;specially in reconstruction, rehabilitation and disaster assessment.She is also a Master’s level professor of social work in disaster management.Living through the earthquake,it gave her an insight on human nature and what is lacking in Nepal’s disaster management facilities.
Personally, I’m also one of the people who was badly affected by the earthquake. When the earthquake struck, I was displaced from my home and for a month I had to stay in the camp. It felt strange because I was someone who used to give out relief materials to others, and now I was the one taking such help from others. What I experienced was that the old ways of Nepalese people not talking to each other and not thinking about others-had changed completely after the earthquake. And after the earthquake everyone started helping each other. Many opened their homes for us to stay. The spirit of volunteerism was very high. The youth adopted a very voluntary spirit which I really liked.
Before there was a lot of discrimination, this case, that caste, but when we were in camp everyone shared their food and resources. I saw that in the camp. Another thing; you know how we Nepalese always say, ‘Nepalese government didn’t do this; the government didn’t do that.’ But at that time, I was very surprised to see the Police Patrol, I was very happy to see that. In our area,the prices of the food didn’t go up and we always had enough water.And 2 days after the earthquake, we even started getting milk from Nepal Dairy. We keep saying that Nepal will never be able to do anything but in that case, I found it very different.
After that, when I was in Sindhupalchowk. There, I saw the psycho-social behavior of people, normalizing their lives. Even though they had destroyed homes, farms and were displaced, they were working normally. In other countries,people in there lose their faith so quickly when something happens like this. We Nepalese take it as, ‘Fine. So what it happened. But,we should all continue to do our work. Help is on its way.’ They didn’t wait. If go and to the village, life is almost normal. That kind of positivity I found in the villages.
When you yourself experience it, it awakens something in you. Because of that experience, I rented three places. This is one, one is in Sunrise Tower 8th floor and another on a second story. That is adaptation. Even if you’re a strong person, because of the aftershocks, you become a little weak. I’m a person that lives alone, but now I need company. This a personal thing.
What I saw before and now is that educational institutions like schools were severely affected. But I got a request from the parents that during the reconstruction, children should be looked after first. They need to provide protection and a proper place. As the local people are mostly involved in agriculture, they were asking us to take of their children so they can work. They youth wander around, uselessly. There is no guardianship. Because of that, they become at risk; mostly girls. During the time of the disaster, many unknown people entered the village like various political parties so hard to differentiate the good ones and the bad ones. And, because so many unknown people came, a critical situation occurred for girls. I cannot speak for Kathmandu, but in the villages it is called trafficking.