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Earthquake victims happy to have a concrete home

Prior to the earthquake, however, the Katuwal couple never even considered the possibility of building a concrete house. Having lived half their lives in a mud-mortar home, their new concrete structure is the beginning of a new chapter entirely.

Nisankhe (Okhaldhunga): Ram Bahadur Katuwal is now 78 years old, his wife Janamaya is 66. The couple, left stranded after their house was destroyed by the earthquake, now finally has a new home. They moved to their new house after all the rituals and offerings were completed sometime mid-July.  

The Katuwal couple could not be more excited. They used to live in their simply repaired earthquake affected home before the new home was built and are thrilled that they have finally moved into a more permanent structure.   

“We lived with relatives for some time and later moved back to our damaged home after a few repairs,” said Ram Bahadur. The Katuwal couple built their new home with the help of a government grant of Rs. 300,000 provided through the National Reconstruction Authority.

The Katuwal couple from Nishankhe of Siddicharan Municipality ward no. 2 in Okhaldhunga district used to live in a thatch covered home which leaked. Prior to the earthquake, however, they never even considered the possibility of building a concrete house. Having lived half their lives in a mud-mortar home, their new concrete structure is the beginning of a new chapter entirely. 

“This has come as good fate for us, I never imagined that I would be able to build and live in such a home,” a pleased Katuwal said, who in his young days also used to be an office assistant with the District Administration Office in Okhaldhunga. 

“I built this home with the 300 thousand rupees offered by the government and took out an additional loan too. So now, I have a loan but I am delighted that we will get to live out our old age happily.” Building the concrete home with two rooms cost him Rs. 600,000. 

The Katuwal couple’s thatched roof house was feeble and leaky, such that often the situation was such that they had to collect the leaking water in buckets inside. “Sometimes, the cooking fire would be put out by the leaking water, causing us to sometimes have to go to bed on empty stomachs,” Katuwal shared. 

Parents to four children, the Katuwals have two sons and two daughters and have already got all of the children married and taken care of inheritance distribution. Their sons thus live separately now. These parents are among the few lucky ones to have received all three instalments of the government grant. 

Shyam Kumar Katuwal, 44, from Nishankhe is also building a home with the hopes of completing it in October, 2018. He, too, is happy to be able to build an earthquake resilient home for his family.

Shyam Kumar is building a two-storied concrete home. “Our home was of mud-mortar build before the earthquake destroyed it so now we are very happy to be building a new home with a steel roof and concrete walls.” 

“Though we were sad to see our home destroyed by the earthquake, the new home gives us great satisfaction,” he said. “If there was no earthquake, I think we would not have built a new home.” 

Shyam’s new home only needs a roof before it is complete. He has already spent Rs. 900,000 in building this house for which the total cost is estimated to be Rs. 1.2 million. As his wife is a teacher, her earning is a big help. 

“I have built this quality home because I feel that a home is built once in a lifetime,” Shyam said. But he, too, has taken out a loan for the purpose. 

According to Madhab Prasad Bhattarai, the ward secretary, of the 104 homes destroyed by the earthquake in Nishankhe of Siddicharan Municipality ward no. 2, 96 beneficiaries have already signed an agreement to build their homes, of which 70 have already been completed. 

As per engineer Sanjib Yadav, all homes that have signed the agreement, with the exception of three, are being built. Of the three, one lives in Kathmandu, one is a widow and one has built his house on his own without any consultation.

The 820 household-strong Nishankhe village has diverse inhabitants comprising different castes and communities. The earthquakes of April and May 2015 destroyed all their homes.

By Surendra Kafle in Annapurna Post

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