A few minutes walk away from the Sattale Durbar Area in Nuwakot, Raj Napit is like any other gentle child who loves to play sports and enjoys going to school. Raj, who is now eleven years old, still remembers his frightening experience during the earthquake. He recalls playing with his friends in a nearby community area when Nuwakot started shaking, it was a foreign feeling for him. Never had he felt this way before. Scared and wanting to be protected, he held on to a tree near him until his aunt came to fetch him and bring him to safety. In the earthquake’s aftermath, Raj was able to reunite with his mother and sister, unfortunately, their humble abode has been severely damaged.
After the April 2015 earthquake, Nepal, with the assistance of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), started its campaign to build back better. In Nuwakot, one of the most affected districts, India and UNOPS prevail as active housing partners in building and promoting safe and resilient housing and infrastructure. As part of this initiative, the India-funded STFC project supports 23,088 homeowners and the Nuwakot community, through reconstruction services, capacity building and promotion of safe building practices.
Raj’s family was a part of the STFC project, his mother, Basanti, was a project beneficiary. However, to Raj’s pain, his father passed away before the earthquake. His mother remarried and migrated away from the village before the new home could be built. While Basanti was the original recipient of the reconstruction grants, with the assistance of the STFC, her son was able to get the grants transferred to his name and build a home for his remaining family.
Raj is currently living around Sattale area with his 16-year-old sister, Swastika, who assumes the role of his guardian and has been taking care of Raj ever since their mother moved away. With close relatives giving them a helping hand to get by, Raj is attending fourth grade in a local school and his sister is enrolled in vocational training in Bidur. They both were still living in an unsafe house made of mud and stone when the STFC identified Raj’s site and his situation. In the light of their young age, the STFC was concerned that they would not be able to construct their homes by themselves and decided to extend additional support. Building a home is not a children's play.
With special attention to at-risk beneficiaries, the STFC was not only able to transfer the project agreement into Raj’s name but also provided extensive support in helping the children build their house back better. In the early months of 2019, the STFC was identifying on-the-job training (OJT) sites when Raj’s case was brought up by the Ward authorities. The Ward authorities suggested that the STFC could provide supplementary assistance to Raj Napit by conducting the OJT at his reconstruction site.
The STFC and local stakeholders worked side by side to provide holistic support to Raj and Swastika. The Ward authorities agreed to fully support the tranche release process and coordinated with a local supplier for the provision of construction materials. Meanwhile, the STFC conducted a competency-based OJT at the site as a support to him and his sister.
While the engineers did technical monitoring, the builder trainer assigned to Raj’s site also conducted full monitoring in addition to guiding the masons deployed to rebuild the house using earthquake-resistant technology. Raj and Swastika received the full cooperation of the STFC technical service center located in Sattale through administrative, procedural and drawing support.
Being left behind by their mother is a difficult circumstance for young children. Despite the love their mother has for them, they can't live with her. They are fending for themselves, making it hard for them to enjoy the freedom as children. In understanding and responding to the situation, an STFC community mobiliser has gone above and beyond to accompany and assist the sister to protect her from any harm. Thanks to the STFC’s intervention and care, Swastika was enrolled in a vocational training program.
Now, the house for Raj and his sister is completely built and they have received the first and second tranches. Recently, their drawing was approved from Bidur Municipality after which the TSC provided the report needed by the Municipal authority and filled all the necessary forms for the submission of the third tranche.
In the completion of their house, Raj and Swastika organized a house inauguration puja early August 2019 to turn over a new stone with a safer and resilient house. The community and STFC members came together to celebrate the children and their strength in building back better. In August also, Raj was able to meet with the NRA CEO and they shared a delightful conversation about his new life.