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Nepal Earthquake: Runa stands up from the ruins

World Vision
2 May 2015 by Sunjuli Singh
Nepal Earthquake: Runa stands up from the ruins

Runa stands in front of her ruined home, the clothes she was hanging out to dry when the earthquake struck still in place. Photo by Sunjuli Singh, World Vision

In the village of Lalitpur, only few houses remain standing after the Nepal Earthquake. Mounds of bricks and dirt from collapsed buildings and houses are everywhere. One of those houses that turned into piles of rubbish was the house of Runa.

“It is like a dream… a nightmare. I still cannot believe that my house is now gone. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that my family and I are safe. The big thing is that we survived, we can always build a new home,” says 19-year-old Runa, a former World Vision sponsored child.

It would have been a normal Saturday for Runa.  She was doing household chores like she normally does. She was in the rooftop of her two-storey house as she was drying her clothes. Then the earth shook. She heard shattering noise from the tin roofs.  Her water tank cover moved up and down. Just as the movement stopped she and her family went out to the open space in front of her house. Runa’s home stood fine. But minutes later, the earth shook again. It only took few seconds and their entire home collapsed. Everything went down, the only part the remained recognizable was the rooftop, with their clothes scattered on the ground, some still hanging in the clothesline.

It was a sight of despair as Runa shares how the earthquake destroyed everything in their village. She estimated that around seven of her neighbors have died. There are still others who are missing. It really saddens her to learn that the people whom she grew up with are gone. The house adjoining theirs had three deaths – a five year old child, a one year old, and the grandmother, who had hearing problems. After the earthquake, when the dozer came to find them in the rubble, Runa and her neighbors saw the grandmother holding the baby in her lap.

“I was totally blank for some time, and my legs were shivering. I could not believe what was happening in front of our eyes. It was frightening! We feel lucky to have survived. Thankful that no one in my family was hurt, including me even if I was in the rooftop,” she said.

Runa and her family spent the nights after the earthquake in a make shift tent that they set up in the open space near their home.  The tent, she said, was not enough. “It is specially difficult for girls, like me, to go out as many toilets are destroyed,” she said.

“All my books and uniform are under the debris, I just don’t know what to do, how I will go back to college,” Runa said, while trying to hide her tears. She is a nursing student and classes were supposed to resume next week.

Today, she found her strength from her friends who encouraged her to move on. Like her, they lost so much too, yet are willing to share whatever that was left. They were consoling her and telling her, “You are alive that is what matters, we can share our uniform and books with you so that you can come back to college and be with us again. Don’t worry.”

It was such an amazing moment to see that her friends were there for her and trying to help her recover from her pain. Her friends were teary-eyed as they listened to her story. Yet, they were glad to see her alive.

After they wiped their tears, Runa said, she’s ok and is willing to offer what she has for her community. Her face lit up and smiled. “My community has suffered a lot and it would be a great thing if I can do something in any way I can, back to my people.”

Runa and many of her friends will be helping to care for the injured in Lalitpur in the aftermath of the Nepal Earthquake. World Vision will be setting up a Child Friendly Space in the area and Runa is happy to be able to help.

You can support World Vision’s response by donating to the Nepal Earthquake Appeal.

Sunjuli Singh Sunjuli Singh

Sunjuli is a communications specialist for World Vision Nepal.

 

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