Nepal: One Year After the Earthquake

One Year After: Historic City of Bhaktapur Still Struggling to Rebuild

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Bhaktapur, one of the most heavily damaged areas of the April 2015 earthquake, still has a number of people living in tent camps after more than a year – people who largely have had trouble rebuilding their original homes. Damaged historical buildings are also prevalent throughout this historic district.

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(Tent camp in Bhaktapur in late June 2016; the first STU Nepal team encountered the same camp and some of the same inhabitants here in June 2015    Wency Lin/Photo)

Aakriti Suwal, a sixteen-year old girl, has been staying in the camp for a year. “It is easy for us to borrow money from the bank, it is not easy for us to repay,” Suwal said. Her father’s monthly income is only 13,000 rupees, but Suwal says over two million rupees is needed for reconstruction of their house.

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(Aakriti Suwal stood behind her family’s tent    Alison Hong/Photo)

The Nepalese government provides 200,000 rupees for homeowners – if they can prove they need assistance. Since Suwal’s family cannot provide complete documents that the government needs, they cannot get any compensation.

After more than a year, her family of six still lives in a small tent in an open field. They buy food with the income they earn, and the government provides 25 liters of water per week. Many families in the camp grow gardens to supplement their diet.

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(A small garden in the shelter    Alison Hong/Photo)

In Bhaktapur, many damaged historical buildings are still close to ruins — crumbling walls and dilapidated houses remain the same as a year ago. Houses which are unsafe are supported by long wooden columns, while some shopkeepers trade their wares in buildings where cracks often run up the entire length of the structure. Although a lot of buildings are damaged, handfuls of tourists are now coming back to see one of Kathmandu valley’s most historic sites.

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(dilapidated houses in Bhaktapur    STU Nepal 2015 team & STU Nepal 2016 team/Photo

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(damaged historical building in Bhaktapur    STU Nepal 2015 team & STU Nepal 2016 team/Photo )

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(Houses which are unsafe are supported by the pillars    Vivian Wen/Photo)

 Even though the earthquake has damaged her home, the aspirations of many Nepalis are still intact. “After completing senior high school, I want to become a policewoman,” she said. At home she had some books that suggested that she was also learning the Chinese language. Her next step would be going to college before she can actually join the police force.

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