Burned down – a new beginning for a family
37-year-old Dhanamaya Chepang lives with her family in one of our project villages in Chitwan in southern Nepal. Dhanamaya has a large family, nine of them live closely together in a small wooden house on the edge of the forest, at the very end of the village of Dhamili.
The family has no land to farm. Both Dhanamaya’s husband, Akal Bahadur (48), as well as her eldest son Suresh (19) and his wife Kabita (19) have no education, cannot read or write and work as day laborers. They walk through the neighboring villages every day in search of income in road construction, as porters, they hope for work in the fields or a bazaar. In addition to Suresh, Dhanamaya has 5 other children. The youngest is still a baby.
Hope for an end to poverty
Since April 2011, Dhanamaya and her family have been taking part in the savings groups and in all training courses that Back to Life offers in this village in order to improve the income situation and thus the living conditions of the families in the long term and to take the children, especially the girls, to school send. Despite their poverty, Dhanamaya sends the youngest children to school.
When they, like the other families in their village, received solar systems and a pair of goats from Back to Life for further breeding, the family was already looking forward to better times. But then unfortunately fate struck hard.
All is lost in one fell swoop
At the beginning of May there was a big storm in Chitwan. Shortly before evening, a fire broke out in the forest, presumably as a result of a lightning strike, which spread at lightning speed and completely destroyed the small wooden house of Dhanamaya’s family. The village community was unable to save the house or any of the family’s belongings. Everything was blazing. The family of nine was now completely destitute.
The two goats they received as part of our income support program also fell victim to the fire, as did the solar panels, clothing, food and everything else the family owned. All that remains is the clothes that they wore during the night. They were always poor, but now they no longer had a roof over their heads.
Immediate aid and new school supplies
In a first quick relief operation, our Chitwan team is distributing food for the near future, cooking utensils, water buckets, blankets and clothing to the family. She was also given a tent as temporary accommodation.
To their great joy and relief, we replaced the burned school supplies for the children – from uniforms, school bags and shoes to books and exercise books, so that they could quickly return to class. The children were already afraid that they would never be able to go to school again.
Existential fear because there is no social help
The family cannot afford the material for a new house. Dhanamaya reports to our teammate: “We have always been poor and felt the hardship of life every day. When our house burned down, my husband was in despair. He was worried sick. I woke up at night and heard him cry bitterly. I’ve never seen my husband cry. He told me he was terrified that we would all end up on the street and that our children would become street children with no hope or chance. “
In Nepal there is neither the possibility of fire protection insurance for the poor sections of the population nor any kind of support from the state in times of need, because the state itself is far too poor to be able to offer such social benefits.
The new house is built quickly
But with the support of our donors we were able to help the family to build a new small wooden house with a tin roof. So not a palace, but according to the standard of the neighboring houses in order to avoid envy within the village community. Of course, the family themselves helped with the construction work. We took care of the materials we needed and also hired additional workers to get the house ready as quickly as possible. Shortly afterwards the monsoon set in, which the family no longer had to fear thanks to the roof over their heads.
The finished new wooden house of the family in the front and back view:
In addition, the family will shortly receive another solar system and two goats in order to have light and an alternative source of income again.
Dhanamaya and her family are very grateful and happy: “It sometimes feels like a dream to us that someone has helped us in this very difficult situation. Thanks to Back to Life and everyone who opened their hearts for us. “
We can only agree with that and would like to thank all donors very much.
Your back-to-life team