25 April 2016
On 25 April 2015 a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, followed by another just as destructive two weeks later. A total of 5.6 million people were affected by the two earthquakes. Nearly 9,000 people were killed, almost 18,000 were injured and close to a million houses were destroyed or damaged.
Dolma Bomjan Tamang was heavily pregnant when her home collapsed during the first earthquake, burying her and her husband in the rubble, in the remote hillside community of Banskharka in the Sindhupalchowk district.
While the couple were able to free themselves, others in the village were not so fortunate. One hundred and sixty of the 2,260 residents died, a further 300 were injured, 65 seriously.
In the chaos after the earthquake, Dolma went into labour. With their local health centre destroyed, mother and baby were in danger. A Red Cross worker spotted Dolma in distress and took her 90 minutes down a rocky mountain road to the nearest surviving hospital. In her gratitude, Dolma named her baby after the man who found them, Nishan Naoki.
Dolma gave birth to a healthy baby boy, but the family’s turmoil was not over as the second earthquake hit just days after the birth, on 12 May 2015, and made a lucky escape once more. Gradually help has arrived to Dolma’s remote village. The Red Cross has provided the family with food, hygiene kits and blankets and a new health clinic is near completion. Gradually they will rebuild their lives.
Dolma Bomjan Tamang said:
“As I lay trapped I felt I would not survive. I thought I would die but hoped I could escape. So many homes had collapsed and many people in our village died. My husband was involved in rescuing people and helping others but we had no money and we worried about how we could survive. We went to the health post but it had collapsed. We had no way to travel to the nearest town of Melamchi. I felt I would not survive the delivery of my baby.”
“My husband was in the village getting relief materials. I was alone in the cattle shed, where we were staying after our house had collapsed. Suddenly the shed began to shake. I grabbed my baby and ran outside. As I escaped the shed collapsed behind me. The main beam crashed onto the earth floor.”
“We thought we would die so many times. We had no money, no food or medicine. Everyone was suffering.”
“Now, Nishan is crawling and is already a handful. We expect he will be walking soon and then our lives will become even more hectic. Slowly we are returning to normal. We’re feeling more confident. We will survive this.”
Notes to editors
The Nepal Red Cross Society is the largest humanitarian organisation in Nepal. It is playing a prominent role in helping people in the 14 districts identified as being the worst affected by the disaster.
The British Red Cross helps millions of people in the UK and around the world to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies, disasters and conflicts. Our volunteers and staff help people in crisis to live independently by providing support at home, mobility aids and transport. We also teach first aid skills. We are part of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent humanitarian network.
We refuse to ignore people in crisis.