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This is not what their lives should be

May 14, 2015
Elana Kaminka

by Aviela Weltman, the Tevel Fellowship program

We arrived in the Manegau village to assess the damage done there by the earthquake. Durga, a Tevel Nepali staff member, and I went around to the houses in the village checking to make sure all basic needs of the community were being met in each home. Shelter, water, toilet, soap. Things we don’t even think twice about in the western world. The village looks almost normal from an outsider’s point of view. Aside from the tents and other temporary spaces outside, it seems as if normal life is going on. A wedding party was set up today, the constant hum of the village mill is in  the air, and men drink tea and play cards at the local pasal (shop). However, when you look a bit deeper, you see that everything is far from normal. The neighborhood above the pasal, about 5 minutes up the mountain, is almost totaled. It looks as if a wrecking ball came through and took out a wall here, a roof there….

Manegau woman

Woman in the Manegau village near her destroyed home

There, we met a family of 16, living in three separate tents, but using one bathroom. We kept going and eventually discovered that five more large families were using this single squat toilet. Each family was responsible for carrying their own water up the mountain for flushing purposes. On most mornings the lines are too long so they just go to the bathroom outside. They are not upset by this, they have a “such is life” attitude. Although the people of this village may have adopted this attitude, it’s not okay that this is what their lives are like. They shouldn’t be okay with sleeping in plastic tents- or in their animal sheds with their animals. They shouldn’t be okay with sharing a toilet with 6 other families. They shouldn’t have to accept this as normal, and neither should we.

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