INF New Zealand Director Sean Marston recently visited Gorkha, the epicentre of one of the devastating 2015 earthquakes. He shares his experience of seeing INF’s work firsthand…
“Last November I had the privilege of visiting Gorkha where INF’s GRACE Project is well underway. The GRACE Project focuses on supporting people with disabilities and their families through reconstruction, capacity building, and improving health, education and livelihoods. It was a humbling experience to visit people whose homes were being completely rebuilt and to be welcomed into villages where INF had been facilitating Self-Help Groups [SHGs].
SHGs seek to connect those with disabilities in their community; enabling people to work together, build trust and develop income-generating opportunities. Living in Nepal with a disability or a debilitating medical condition can often see people experience stigma and discrimination.
INF provides seed funding to SHGs but each group then takes on responsibility for ongoing funding and importantly, provides a sense of worth, empowerment and voice for those involved.
As we crossed the countryside along one-lane dirt roads and rocky tracks it was hard to fathom the magnitude of destruction, the huge number of people who had lost their lives trapped beneath collapsed buildings. Compared with the Christchurch earthquake the signs of destruction seemed less visible in some respects until we reached a large flat and open clearing.
I was told that this space was where a two storey school had once stood. On the day the earthquake struck there were no children at school but the teachers were having a planning meeting. The building collapsed killing four teachers and destroying the school. In so many ways, this site continues to be the symbol of enormous loss to the local community.
During my time in Gorkha, I was struck by both the impact of the earthquake and the ongoing challenge of the area’s remoteness. It is so much harder to access the much needed help for rebuilding as well as the emotional and people support. It is great to see INF Nepal actively engaged in providing resources and support in Gorkha.
While visiting the Self-Help Groups it also dawned on me that when you are on the bottom rung of society, the way you see yourself and the opportunities you have can be very limited. It is hard to see your worth and value when lots of voices and cultural signals tell you otherwise. It may be difficult to understand that in God’s eyes you have great worth. I hope that in having a Christian organisation like INF bring support and hope, these people may see God’s grace in their own lives.”
If you would like to give financially to the GRACE Project and the ongoing earthquake rebuild then click on: https://www.inf.org/donate/