Resilient home, resilient life

Soaking up the sun facing them, Punya Prasad Pokhrel and his wife Sarala Devi, feels safe and secure living inside the newly built house in Shivapuri – 5 at Nuwakot district of Nepal. Punya, aged 56 years, is a person with disability with distorted legs below his knees, while his wife, 48, is unable to hear and suffers from speech impairment. They are amongst the ones who lost their original house to the devastating earthquake of 2015 and were left with no choice to build back their lives. As persons with disability, they remained behind and struggled to make ends meet. However, things now look different and hopeful for the couple.

Punya has been one amongst many vulnerable individuals who had faced hardship in overall process of reconstruction of his new house. Although he was entitled for Government of Nepal’s reconstruction grant, due to lack of access to various housing supports such as, access to available trained masons, lack of information and access to building materials and suppliers, he faced delay in completing his house.

Purnima’s housing reconstruction and recovery support provided him with socio-technical facilitation to resume the reconstruction of his house and in complying all the technical standards as per National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).

Through Purnima’s in-kind support together with continuous socio-technical activity for reconstruction of houses which is tailored to the needs of individual vulnerable households, Punya and his wife could complete their house and access NRA’s final tranche. “We still had few things remaining to turn this into our home and through Purnima, we were able to add windows and doors that are most important part of the house for safety and security,” said Punya. “Proper flooring has helped me to move around the house and plastered walls and floors is making the house look beautiful,” he added. Punya also received support for the roof truss. Today, Punya’s house looks strong, safe and resilient and has proper supply of water connected with support from Purnima. Safe house with access to safe drinking water has made life easier for both husband and wife.

Purnima, though a post-earthquake reconstruction programme, is so much more than that and has been supporting vulnerable communities with all round basics they deserve to sustain their lives. In Nuwakot itself, Purnima is supporting 80 vulnerable households to complete their houses. Altogether, it has been supporting 338 vulnerable households of Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot and Rasuwa with completion of their houses.

Purnima’s housing reconstruction programme not only supports vulnerable house owner resumes and completes their construction-halted house, it also seeks to equip houseowner with skills in various livelihood activities suitable for better and continuous income generation. Livelihood restoration is an important aspect for vulnerable community members like Punya. Having a resilient home and livelihood to keep them going is equally important for Purnima. Discussing his needs, feasibility and interest, Punya was supported with grinding mill. Sharing the cost equally with Purnima, Punya was able to purchase mill machine worth 43,000 Nepali rupees. Operating the mill without any problem, the work is suitable for his physical condition and demands very little effort from him. Today, Punya is earning 10,000 rupees monthly and is happy to be financially independent. “Villagers come to my place to grind rice and other grains. I feel secure that there is a flow of proper income with this machine,” said Punya.

Social security card provided by the Government helps people like him access many rights and services. Purnima facilitated in attaining the card, helping him easily reach what is available to people like Punya. As a Chairperson of Mahakali Samabesi Samuha (self help group) formed through Purnima, Punya has been able to mobilise vulnerable people like him and bring awareness amongst them for suitable and sustainable living.

Through Purnima’s technical assistance to the local government, it is supporting in forming policies and provisions appropriate for people with disabilities. As these vulnerable groups are often left behind, Purnima is ensuring they are able to relish the place they deserve in the communities.

Text and photos: Sofila Vaidya