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Flood-displaced children confront hopelessness

NIRJANA SHARMA

SURKHET, Jan 6

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Kaushila BK’s nine-member family lost all its belongings to a devastating flood and landslide in the monsoon last year. But her nine-year-old son Nabin has managed to salvage something as he escaped the death: his dream to become an engineer.

The fourth child among seven siblings, Nabin recalls that his teacher had once told him that he could become an engineer if he studied hard right from his childhood.

The second-grader’s passion for studies is palpable as he is often found immersed in his studies, unperturbed by the water drops leaking from the tent built for the displaced flood victims on the premises of District Public Health Office (DPHO) of Surkhet.

Nabin not only expresses his ambition openly but also encourages his siblings to chase the dream.

“She wants to become a pilot,” said the boy, pointing toward his sister, Sarita.

Eleven-year-old Sarita, who is the third child of 35-year-old Dil Bahadur, did not react to her brother’s words. Instead, she kept staring down, trying to balance herself on the muddy floor inside the tent. The floor looked filthy after a few days of heavy rainfall.

Sarita seems lost as if she has no hope for a bright future. “So far, we have somehow managed to go school. I don’t know how long we can continue like this,” the fourth-grader of Danda School said in a numb voice. The children still lack textbooks of all the subjects whereas the mother Kausila is irritated to their never ending demands of copies and pencils when she is worried more about the two times meal.

Sarita and Nabin are among 1,500 school children, who have been affected by the flood and landslide that hit Surkhet last monsoon. At least 34 people were killed and 91 went missing in the disaster, as per the data of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Even though he is among 6,577 displaced people, Nabin has managed to keep his hopes high. Contrary to many other children who mostly talked about food, clothes and shelter, he has his eyes set on a bright future.

To motivate children to continue their studies, temporary schools have been constructed near the shelters for the victim at every camp, said District Education Officer Deepa Hamal.

While the official data shows that around 1,500 students are of school going age, the DEO is not yet in a position to give exact number of children without access to school.


In this recent photo, Nabin (center) and Sarita (left) with a neighbor at the shelter set up for flood victims at Women Training Centre in Surkhet.(Photos: Nirjana Sharma/Republica)

“The schools close to the shelters have been directed to provide education materials for the displaced children, which they must have received by now,” said Hamal.

The politicians in the district are oblivious to the sufferings of the children. Hridaya Ram Thami, CA member from Surkhet-2, said that he has no information regarding the status of school goers.

“I had immediately visited the disaster-hit people at that time and urged the authorities to ensure that the classes are not hampered,” claimed Thami.

When told that the victims were deprived of facilities, Thami said, “Since I have not visited Surkhet since long, but I’ll update myself on the situation soon.”

Dreams,These –
Some of the children like Ashish Gharti, 14, have a simple dream. The seventh-grader once aimed to become a teacher; but not anymore. Now, all he just wishes to be able to go to school and play with friends.

Ashish Gharti, 14, sheltered at Chhinchu of Surkhet along with 138 families after landslide hit Lekhparajul VDC in Surkhet. A head injury sustained in the disaster has affected his nerves and he has difficulty in moving his left hand and leg.

Gharti was seriously injured after his house collapsed before he could escape to safety during the landslide that occurred at the settlement in Lekhparajuli VDC at midnight on August 14.

When the rescue team brought him to Bheri Zonal hospital, doctors told that the left part of his head was seriously injured, leaving him unable to lift his left hand, leg and neck.

Five months after the incident, Ashish is yet to receive proper treatment. His father, a daily wage laborer, has not been able to arrange Rs 50,000 required for his treatment.

“Nobody is willing to give loans to the disaster victims like us,” said the father, Lok Bahadur Gharti, expressing his helplessness.

Above all, Manoj Nepali, a seventh-grader of Chhavi Lower Secondary School, is bothered of only one thing these days. His mother Sunita has already declared that the family would not celebrate his birthday that falls this Friday.

Every time he returns from school or after playing with friends, he asks Sunita: “Mom, will you not get me a birthday cake?”

Published on 2015-01-06 on Republica

See more at: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=89886#sthash.0VzdXFbK.dpuf

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About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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