The name CARE is very familiar to 36 year old Mangal who belongs to the Dalit community of Nepal. He has many fond memories of CARE working in his village 15 years ago where they formed community groups to manage waste and provide livestock to families. “We used to be regularly discriminated against by the older generations because we belong to the Dalit community,” he says. “But about 15 years ago CARE came to our village and formed groups that included people from the higher caste and lower caste. Since then, people of Barpak have learned to work together without discriminating against each other. Today the perception of the Dalit people has totally changed. We can socialize with people from the higher castes and even work together to help each other out.”
This is one of the many examples where CARE has made long term sustainable change in many parts of Nepal. After the earthquake on April 25, 2015, CARE is once again seeking to make long term change for the people of Barpak, whose houses were reduced to rubble after the massive earthquake that struck the country.
There are many people like Mangal, who lost everything in the earthquake. All they have left are the bittersweet memories of their beautiful homes, built out of the local natural stone and slate tiles, whose picturesque beauty was so well-know that tourists from all over the world flocked to the village to stay.
Mangal remembers the moment the earthquake destroyed his home with sorrow; “We had a beautiful house in Dandagaon village, where many tourists used to visit. After the earthquake all of our essential belongings like utensils and food were buried inside the rubble. I did not expect to survive as I could see the entire village collapse in front of my eyes. I am very surprised and thankful that I am still alive.”
CARE has distributed more than 2,000 cooking utensils and hygiene items to the people of Barpak village, which the people of Dandagaon now rely on for their daily use. As Mangal says; “these utensils have been so useful for us in this situation. We could have never afforded to purchase them on our own.”
Turning his attention to the roof of the small shelter he has constructed for himself and his family after the earthquake he notes; “we made this shelter from our old iron sheets that we were able to collect from the rubble of our house. But I don’t know if it can protect us from the monsoon rains. CARE has already helped us in so many ways, and we hope that CARE will help us reconstructing our shelter too.”
Many people share the same concerns as Mangal. The few materials they have been able to save from the wreckage of their homes are often damaged or inadequate. CARE has already begun distributing iron sheeting to hundreds of households in Barpak village of Gorkha in a desperate race to try to provide them with the materials necessary to construct durable temporary shelters before the monsoon rains start and the road down to the main town or Gorkha becomes cut off.
The Dalits of Barpak are an amazingly resilient and resourceful people. All Mangal and his community ask for is some assistance to get them started with basic building materials and expert advice and then they are more than ready to rebuild their lives and their homes. They will work together as a community - without prejudices around caste or ethnicity - to make sure that everyone comes back from this disaster stronger and more united.