On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal at 11:56 am. The earthquake was the biggest to hit our country in nearly a century. It caused a widespread destruction of properties, mainly houses, and death of thousands of people. The epicenter of the earthquake was in Gorkha district, which has been our area of focus since Sambhav Nepal was established. Gorkha was one of the hardest-hit districts in Nepal where there were villages with all the houses destroyed and villages where more than 95% structures were affected.
Immediately after the earthquake hit, we visited the affected villages in Gorkha with relief supplies. You can read about our relief efforts here: Nepal Earthquake Relief. In our aid trips to Gorkha, we assessed the damages and realized that we should be focusing on long-term assistance. So, we collaborated with Ace the Himalaya, an adventure travel operator and one of our supporters, to design volunteering trips with a hope that volunteers from around the world would come to Nepal and help in rebuilding homes for the earthquake victims.
The two trips allow the participants to contribute precious sweat equity as they engage in rebuilding. They also contribute financially to buy necessary building materials as they automatically donate USD 300 from the amount they have paid to sign up in the trip. We hope we will receive volunteers as long as the earthquake victims need assistance in rebuilding.
In Gorkha district, our focus location for rebuilding houses is Arughat Rural Municipality (Before the local elections of 2017, it was divided into Arupokhari, Aruchanaute, Aruarbang and Thumi Village Development Committees). To reach these places, we at first transfer our volunteers in jeeps from Kathmandu to Arughat Bazaar, which takes about 7/8 hours. And from Arughat, the volunteers have to walk to reach the destination villages. This walking can be from 1 hour to 8 hours depending upon the village location.
Under this project, the goal of Sambhav Nepal is to construct 108 houses. Out of which we made 6 houses in the first phase and 36 houses in the second phase. In total, we have made 42 houses, and we have 66 houses remaining to be built. Our focus while building all these houses is on those people who are not able to add a single amount of money to the grant given by the government due to poverty. The government gave the grant of USD 3000 to the earthquake victims to rebuild their houses and toilets which is not sufficient. The villagers at Aarughat Rural Municipality who did not start the construction work due to the fear of being unable to complete the construction of the house are being prioritized. We are hence helping such families rebuild the houses by providing them with the additional amount of money to the government grant. The families are building the houses according to the code of conduct of the Government which is how they will also be able to get the government grant. Each house will comprise of 3 rooms; 1 kitchen, 1 store room, 1 bedroom of dormitory style and a toilet a little farther away from the house.
To identify the needy victims, we have formed a selection committee of 5 people from the villages including the elected chief of the village (Government representative), the community leaders and the teachers. They are aware about the area, the people residing there and their economic status. The priority however are given to single mothers, widows, lower caste families (in villages the system of untouchables and impure for example the butchers, the tailors, cobblers, sweepers, iron-workers, washermen etc. still exists and are termed as the people from lower castes), the family with no regular source of income or anyone to support them and many more. The 5 committee members research and refer the names of such families who are in need of these funds for the construction of their houses. Additionally, the representatives from Sambhav Nepal will also make a visit to the families of the names listed by the selection committee to ensure that the families are underprivileged and are in real need. This method is relevant to identify the poverty-stricken families for Sambhav Nepal and help them accordingly.
Building 108 houses for the earthquake victims (We have already made 6 in Phase I and 36 in Phase II. In Phase III, which is currently in process, we will build 24 houses). Each house will comprise of 3 rooms: 1 kitchen, 1 store room and 1 bedroom of dormitory style, and also a toilet a little farther away from the house.
Installing a biogas plant for cooking and to promote eco-friendly energy production.
Building individual toilets for all the houses.
After building 66 houses up to Phase III, we will have 42 houses more to go to achieve our target and complete the project. We are searching for the donors who can help us fully complete the project.
Rebuild Home Gorkha Project started in September 2015. Since then we have been rebuilding houses for the earthquake victims at Arughat Rural Municipality of Gorkha district. We will be working until our needs and targets are fully met. We hope that volunteers willing to volunteer and donors from various countries help us in fulfillment of our goals.
We have divided the project according to different phases as the work cannot be done in bulk altogether due to lack of enough funds. We have successfully completed Phase I and Phase II and are on the process of beginning of Phase III.
APRIL PROGRESS UPDATE – 2021 (LATEST UPDATE)
Phase III of Rebuild Home Gorkha is undergoing. But for now, all the work is stopped due to the new lockdown enforced in Nepal due to the rising number of cases caused by the new variants of Covid-19. Soon the monsoon will start and that will also prevent us from working on the rebuilding. We are planning to resume the construction from mid-September this year.
The selected villagers who underwent training to create bricks have manufactured all the interlocking bricks needed for constructing 24 houses. We also called the engineers from Build Up Nepal and they conducted mason training and taught the villagers how to use the interlocking bricks to make the houses.
Until now for Phase III, we have completed 2 houses out of 24. From the upcoming September, after the monsoon has ended, we will continue making other 22 houses.
Phase III has started but we are going through training and manufacturing stages. The construction hasn’t begun yet. Under this phase, we will make 24 houses in various villages of Arughat Rural Municipality. The houses will be built using interlocking bricks and UPVC (for roof instead of aluminium sheets). The design will be same: a 3-room house with 1 kitchen, 1 store room and 1 bedroom of dormitory style. Toilets will be a little farther away from the house. We will also install a biogas plant in each house.
In this phase, we are providing training to local villagers on how to create interlocking bricks and use them to build houses. This generates employment and skilled laborers and they can use the skills to make houses for others too. The on-site training on making bricks with interlocking brick machines and machine operation and maintenance was given to 9 villagers in Kudule village, Ward 7 of Arughat Rural Municipality.
When Covid-19 lockdown was eased down and transportation was allowed, we bought the necessary tools and machines and installed them in Gorkha. They are:
2 interlocking brick machines (One is single mould machine which makes 1 brick at a time and another is double mould machine which makes 2 bricks at a time)
1 tiling machine
We purchased the machines and training from Build Up Nepal.
Currently the workers are manufacturing the interlocking bricks and curing the new bricks (it’s a process of spraying water over a period of time on newly-made bricks to improve their strength). Soon we will call the engineers from Build Up Nepal to conduct mason training and teach the workers how to build houses with interlocking bricks. Once training is completed and we have made enough bricks, we will start building houses.
As for why we are using interlocking bricks, they are durable and easy to maintain and repair. These bricks are used to make earthquake-resistant houses. They are also faster to manufacture and cost less than regular bricks. The interlocking brick technology is approved by the Government of Nepal.
In the Phase II of Rebuild Home Gorkha Project, we constructed 36 houses at different villages of Arughat Rural Municipality, Gorkha. All 36 houses have biogas implantation for cooking purpose so that fuelling for cooking food can be easier and eco-friendly in nature. All the houses have an individual toilet within a reasonable distance.
This phase is funded by our generous Swiss donor.
In Phase I, we have completed 6 houses in Arughat Rural Municipality (previously called Arupokhari and Aruchanaute Village Development Committees) of Gorkha district.
In September 2015, we received the first batch of volunteers. A group of 17 went to Ward No 8 Ratamate village of Arughat Rural Municipality (previously Ward No 6 of Arupokhari Village Development Committee ). They worked hard and rebuilt the first house. This was turned into a video by two university students who were also the volunteers. You can see the video here: Video Link
There are some kind-hearted supporters who couldn’t come to Nepal but donated money to rebuild the houses. And yes, if there are people who might not have time to come here but want to donate to reconstruct the houses of the earthquake victims, they can do so.
We are thankful for the stream of volunteers who came to Nepal from various countries as well from the donors. Because of them, we have now completed 6 houses and bring happiness in the lives of the benefitted families.