28 April 2016

Preparing for school – preparing for the future

In Nepal, UNICEF helps restore education of earthquake-affected children 

By Mallika Aryal

Kathmandu, Nepal – It is 6 a.m. in Kavresthali, a small village nearly 10 kilometres north from the city centre and 16-year-old Ranjita Bhandari has been up for over an hour. She is dressed in her school uniform – neat blue shirt with a navy blue pullover, a striped tie, a pleated navy blue skirt, black leggings and polished black shoes. She has tied her long thick hair away form her face. She is standing nervously outside her house, a small hut made of tin and tarpaulin.

Ranjita Bhandari, 16, is hugged by her mother inside their makeshift temporary shelter before she heads out to take her School Leaving Certificate (SLC), a national examination taken by Nepali students at the end of their tenth grade.
Photo by Kiran Panday for UNICEF.

Ranjita is appearing for the School Leaving Certificate, a national-level examinations all tenth graders in Nepal have to take before they graduate to the last two years of high school. This year, over 600,000 children all over Nepal are appearing for the SLC examinations, often called the ‘iron gate’.

Back on her feet, Akriti is now going to school

A young girl’s story of a new life from a near-death malnourishment

By Naresh Newar

Lalitpur, Nepal – It has been nine months since UNICEF came into four-year-old Akriti Banskota’s life. Her story is an example of how community nutrition can make a huge difference to reduce severe malnutrition in the country.
Akriti Banksota, 4, is seen with her friends inside an early childhood development (ECD) centre in Chapagaun, Lalitpur,
Photo by Narendra Shrestha for UNICEF

Akriti was identified as suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) as part of UNICEF-supported emergency nutrition program that was started in her community two months after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015.

“It feels great to hear her laughing and talking and running around,” said Kriti KC, a young health professional working with UNICEF partner Social Development Promotion Centre (SDPC). She recalls how quiet Akriti had been when she first met her.

“She was too weak to say anything or move around,” she said.

27 April 2016

In Nepal, UNICEF helps heal earthquake’s mental wounds

By Mallika Aryal

Kamala Rai (left) works in the kitchen in her makeshift temporary shelter in Nuwakot, one of the 14 most earthquake-affected districts in Nepal. Kamala lost her newborn son when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015. 
Photo by Prakash Mathema for UNICEF. 

Nuwakot, Nepal - Kamala Rai, 27, and a mother of four, had just woken up from a nap with her new born son late morning on 25 April 2015 in Charghare, Nuwakot, east of the capital Kathmandu.  Saturday is laundry day in the Rai household, so she left her sleeping baby inside the house and went out to gather her three girls so they could help her wash dirty clothes.  Suddenly, the ground started shaking violently. Her first thought was her sleeping baby inside the house. She screamed and ran inside.
“After that everything went all dark,” Kamala said, as she sat inside her makeshift home on a late winter afternoon.

Her temporary shelter has tin roof and tarpaulin for walls. The floor is cold and it is dark inside as she chops vegetables for dinner.

“When I gained consciousness at the hospital, they told me that my little baby boy was gone,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “He was taken by the earthquake.”

Following the earthquake, Kamala spent several weeks in the hospital with a head injury.

“I just didn’t feel right, I had no will to live,” she said.

Returning home provided no comfort either.

25 April 2016

Growing up at the Epicenter

In Nepal’s quake-affected village, a young mother struggles to raise her daughter born on the day of earthquake.

By Avinashi Paudel

Amita Gurung holds her 11-month-old daughter Arpita, Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki for UNICEF.

Gorkha, Nepal- “I love my daughter the most in the whole world,” said Amita Gurung, holding her baby daughter Arpita tightly in her arms. "But when I think of the day she was born, I feel like crying."

That  was the day when a devastating earthquake shook central Nepal in April last year. Amita's village was at the epicenter of the quake.

It was a dull Saturday noon that day. Nine-month pregnant Amita was lying lazily on bed watching television. Suddenly she heard a rattling sound and heard her sister screaming ‘Earthquake!

Earthquake!’ How the heavily pregnant Amita dragged herself out of the collapsing house when the whole world seemed to be rocking still feels like a bad dream for this young mother.

In her Snan village of Barpak Village Development Committee (VDC) many people had gathered together and were retreiving foodstuff from the rubble of a village shop. A couple of hours after the earthquake, Amita felt stomach ache. She told her father-in-law about the pain, and he immediately reckoned it as labor pain. Soon enough Amita was taken inside a cowshed.