Nepal Earthquake Survivor: “The Kitchen Disappeared before My Eyes”

May 1, 2015
Photo by Crystal Wells

Swenchya Tamrakar, 23, was at home studying when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25th. She clung to a pillar on the third floor of her home as the floor and ceiling collapsed around her.

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Swechnya Tamrakar, 23, was studying on the carpet on the third floor of her family’s home in Lalitpur, an area of Kathmandu, when the cupboards started shaking violently. She quickly realized it was an earthquake and ran to a pillar in the back corner of the room. Clinging to the pillar, Swechnya watched as the walls and floors crumbled down around her. “The kitchen disappeared before my eyes,” she said.

Meanwhile, her parents, Padam Bahaduj and Dayalunmi, were standing in the street, watching their home collapse with their daughter inside. They were in their shop on the ground floor of the home when the earthquake struck and ran out into the street. “I didn’t worry about the house,” Dayalunmi said. “I only cared about my daughter.”

When the ground stopped shaking, Swechnya crawled down the back staircase, which thankfully remained intact, and found a door that was not jammed. She found her mother sobbing on the street. “For 30 minutes, my mom was not convinced I was in front of her,” she said. “She couldn’t believe it. She was in shock.”

“I didn’t believe it,” Dayalunmi said. “My daughter kept saying, ‘Mom, I am here,’ but I didn’t believe it. I thought she had died.”

Clinging to the pillar, Swechnya watched as the walls and floors crumbled down around her. “The kitchen disappeared before my eyes,” she said.

The family was too afraid to sleep indoors in the days following the earthquake, as aftershocks rattled the capital city. Instead they slept in a bus. They have since moved in with extended family, but are still worried that another earthquake could come. Most of their belongings, with the exception of a few items from the shop that scattered out onto the street, are buried under the mass of brick and metal.

“I have no books left to study,” Swechnya said. “We couldn’t recover anything.”

Concern Worldwide is preparing to distribute shelter and relief items to 10,000 families in four of the hardest-hit districts. We are doing this with two local partner organizations, Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN) and Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH). The distributions will be the first phase of our emergency response to help families who lost everything to the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25.

DONATE NOW to support the response.