Sonia Narang is in Nepal this month for the one year anniversary of the earthquake. Over 8,000 people were killed and 17,000 injured when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Katmandu Valley on April 25, 2015. Hundreds of thousands of lives were transformed in an instant.
In these beautiful photos, Narang documents some of those experiences, including the struggles, hopes and fears that women face as they piece their lives back together. Follow
Sonia Narang in Instagram.
Ratna Ramtel recently became the first woman president of her village’s water committee. Since women in Nepal are usually tasked with the chore of fetching water for the household, it makes a big difference to have a woman leader. She helps local women understand how and when they can get their water from the public water taps. When the 2015 earthquake destroyed her community’s water storage tank, it greatly affected women’s lives. Now, the village has a new, larger, earthquake-resistant tank that allows women like Ratna to fill up lots of water more efficiently.
When the Nepal earthquake destroyed Prapti Tamang’s two-story house last April, her husband was working in Qatar.
Like Prapti, age 24, many women here have husbands doing jobs overseas. So, the women had to set up temporary homes on their own, with help from family and neighbors. Prapti’s husband sends back earnings from his factory job, but it’s not enough to re-build a real house anytime soon. Construction costs have risen dramatically since they built their previous home several years ago. She says it will take them at least 10-15 years to save up enough by working hard.
Until then, Prapti and her five-year-old son will live in this compact, hut-like home made of corrugated tin sheets and wooden planks. She says she feels insecure here, especially at night, since it’s made out of cheap materials and anyone can enter or break down the door. “The women in this village are very scared,” Prapti says, and “it’s been hard to console my son, who lives in fear of another earthquake.” Her husband will visit soon for his first trip back to Nepal in three years.
Sanukanchi Tamang and her youngest daughter, Devi, sit in the rubble near their former home. Just a year before the Nepal earthquake, the family had pooled their earnings to build a new two-story house. But, it all came crashing down when the quake hit last April, and they were left with nothing. Other homes remain standing, but are uninhabitable due to major structural damage. The family will soon move into a donated one-room blue tin shelter where their former house once stood. They are happy to have a roof over their heads, but their dream to live in a real home has been shattered.
20-year-old Junu Syangtan is pregnant with her first child. Her family’s house was completely destroyed in the Nepal earthquake last year. So, she’s spending her last month of pregnancy in this tent shelter set up outside a local health clinic two hours away from her village. Here, she gets food, water, and regular check-ups.
In the historic Patan Durbar Square, life seems to have returned to normal a year after the earthquake. Here a group of contestants in the Miss Newari beauty pageant pose for a photo shoot. They are dressed in the bright red outfits worn by the Kumari, or child goddess, during festival days. Their photo will be included in a calendar released this month for the Nepali New Year.
A diya (oil lamp) flickers at dusk outside a temple in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. I returned there today after almost three years to find piles of bricks where grand temples once stood, crumbling monuments supported by wooden planks, and historic buildings that remained completely intact after the earthquake. Life seems to go on inside this mini-city, which bustled with sidewalk vegetable markets, bicycle rickshaws zigzagging through alleyways, and singing & dancing outside a temple today. Just when I thought everything had quieted down for the evening, I suddenly found myself in the midst of throngs of people parading a chariot through the area.