Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A new life amidst death and destruction on Nepal earthquake day

Rojina Chauhan with her son Himal "Bhukampa Bahadur."
In the beautiful hamlet of Nalang Patle, a remote and impoverished ward of Nalang Village Development Committee (VDC) in Dhading district, five-months-old Himal is a constant reminder that on April 25, when Nepal was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, there were not only deaths and destruction, but a new life also.

Although named Himal by the family priest, he is more popularly known in his village by his nickname, ‘Bhukampa Bahadur,’ which literally means earthquake brave, the name written in the health register. Those close to him even call him ‘Bhukampey' for short.

A visitor uses his mobile phone to take Himal's photo.
Himal's mother Rojina Chauhan is overjoyed whenever she has a visitor for her infant son.

“They come here every day just to see him, hoping that he brings good luck to them,” the 17-year-old said.

As the almost a minute-long deadly shaking began on April 25, Rojina was inside delivery room in Nangle health post. The staff carried her in the open grassland area, far from any collapsing building.
Rojina weighs herself with and without Himal to determine his weight.
The health team worked with Rojina even as they were shaken with extreme fear for their own safety as parts of the health post started crumbling down.

Fortunately, after four hours, when the strong aftershocks had subsided, they took Rojina inside and safely delivered Himal.

Himal with his great-grandmother. 
“I couldn’t believe that my daughter was alive and had given birth to a healthy baby boy,” said Rojina’s 35-year-old mother Maya. “I am so thankful to the health post staff.”

Rojina's family barely survives with less than USD 30 a month. Their only source of income is any farm work that Maya and her husband can find. They are landless and live in a makeshift tiny hut with one bed shared by the whole family.

Rojina holds Himal outside their makeshift home while her mother watches from behind. 
“I worry a lot about my son’s well-being as we have a very difficult life but it gives me a lot of relief to see him safe,” said Rojina, who often talks to her son telling him not to worry as she will save him if there is another earthquake.

Since the earthquake, UNICEF has provided a medical tent to the health post in Nalang to ensure continuous delivery of essential health services in the community.

Rojina, with Himal, visits the local health post being operated under UNICEF-provided tent.
Text by Naresh Newar
Photos by Kiran Panday for UNICEF

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