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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 30-Apr-15 09:26:18

Guest post: Nepal earthquake: "it was chaos - we couldn't understand, and we couldn't do anything"

Prajana Pradham - an aid worker living in Nepal with her husband and young daughter - shares her family's story

Prajana Pradham

Aid worker for Care International, Nepal

Posted on: Thu 30-Apr-15 09:26:18


Lead photo

Amit, Prajana and their daughter Samara

My husband Amit, daughter Samara and I were all in different places when the earthquake struck. Samara, who is six, was being looked after by my mother-in-law at our house while my husband and I were at a football match between different NGOs. I had just left the arena with a colleague to get some snacks from a small bakery outside. My husband stayed behind. Then, it hit us. It was something I had never experienced before. We have had earthquakes but not of this magnitude. We just had to run for safety. We couldn't understand what was going on and we couldn't do anything - we just had to wait. It was several minutes before the shaking stopped and we got the courage to go back to the arena.

It was so chaotic. We could already see that lots of walls had collapsed and some cars had been completely destroyed. We were getting more anxious and scared. We rushed back to the arena and I frantically searched for my husband. Luckily I found him, and the next thing was to go back home to our daughter. Everybody was worrying about their children. The lines were down so we couldn't call them. As we reached home my daughter had been crying - she was so scared because we hadn't been able to be with her. When a child experiences something bad or something dramatic, you want to be there to comfort them.

I have to work, I have to help provide aid to many other people who have suffered - but I also have to be responsible for my own family and my daughter.

When we were at home the aftershocks were continuing about every ten minutes. It made us feel panicky so we decided to go outdoors like other families nearby. We made sure our daughter and some of the other children were sleeping under proper cover in the tents. The aftershocks continued for a couple of days and then there was heavy rain. We were uncomfortable and there were no toilet facilities; we had no proper sleep or food. We were outside for four nights in total.

The day it happened I had to focus on my husband and daughter, but after that I started talking to people on the phone. Being an aid worker, there was also a lot of work to be done, with lots of international staff coming in. On Monday I went into work with some colleagues to find out what was going on. But although I was there, I was not really there. It is difficult because I have to work - including helping provide aid to many other people who have suffered - but I also have to be responsible for my own family and my daughter. My husband was so worried the first day I went back, as I was on the other side of town. It is human nature to want to be close to each other when something like this happens.

When we came back to our home, Samara didn't want to go indoors, we had to coax her. She realises that what happened wasn't normal and that being in a house is risky. I have to think about how to handle my daughter's emotions, thinking about what she went through. But we also have to explain that we have been lucky. We have electricity now and drinking water. I was able to wash her and myself this morning, although now we do everything in a rush in case we get another aftershock. We are jittery, if we hear a bang or a crash we are ready to run out.

I have to go to work every morning and Samara is hesitant to let me leave. She says, “one last hug” before I go. I think it is probably the same for all mothers after this. It is her seventh birthday this week, so I will need to explain that this year, her birthday may be different.

The Disasters Emergency Committee launched the Nepal Earthquake Appeal on Monday. It has already raised £19 million which will help boost member agencies’ responses in Nepal, providing more emergency shelter, food, clean water and blankets. You can donate here.

By Prajana Pradham

Twitter: @decappeal

TanteRose Thu 30-Apr-15 09:54:43

must have been terrifying sad

I think the worst thing with earthquakes is the feeling of helplessness - you can't control anything

I went through the earthquake in Japan three years ago, and although I was south of Tokyo, very far from the epicentre, the aftershocks which went on for months were the most unnerving thing.

Its something that is, of course, always in the back of my mind, living in an earthquake-prone country - when will the Big One hit?

Nepal is in my thoughts and I hope that the country will be able to recover from this disaster flowers

funnyperson Thu 30-Apr-15 12:10:31

Thank you for the post.
Thinking of you all in Nepal and wishing you ongoing courage in rebuilding lives and homes

lionheart Thu 30-Apr-15 17:23:32

Glad you and your family are well and I hope your daughter recovers her sense of security.

Treaclecrap Fri 01-May-15 06:57:01

Good luck OP, it all sounds really hard. The election next week is taking up most of the news or I think we would be hearing more about it.

BoffinMum Fri 01-May-15 11:13:53

You are coping so well with such a difficult situation. We joke about Zombie Apolocalyses on here, and how we might deal with such a thing, but really what we are probably doing psychologically is mentally preparing ourselves for having to look after our families in horrific circumstances, because it's every mother's worst fear. You are an example to us all, OP. I am sure your strength and obvious fortitude will help your daughter adjust.

PotatoesPastaAndBread Fri 01-May-15 20:31:18

Namaste Prajana. I work for one of the other big aid agencies active in the response. Our at staff are also affected and our thoughts are with you all. The teams supporting from here in the UK are doing all we can to raise funds.

LowryFan Fri 01-May-15 21:44:19

I am glad you and your family survived. One of my family was there at the time and is thankfully ok. Thinking of you and all the people affected. Have donated via DEC.

Kampeki Sat 02-May-15 17:48:32

I'm glad that you and your family are ok, but can't imagine how frightened you must have been when the earthquake struck, and through all of the aftershocks. I used to live in a very earthquake-prone country, and I used to worry that something like this would happen.

I have good friends in Nepal, and thankfully they are all ok, but it is so sad to see how many people who have lost their loved ones, their homes and everything that they are used to. Sad, too, to see the destruction of some of Nepal's beautiful historic buildings, many of which I have visited.

I have donated online to the DEC, but gave again today to a collection in town. I'm also planning to send some more cash via a Nepali friend who has been a trustee of a local charity for a number of years.

It's heartbreaking to see the footage on TV. I hope that you and your family can return to some sort of normality soon, and that, in the meantime, your daughter has something approaching a happy birthday!

1Morewineplease Sat 02-May-15 20:49:34

Really sorry to hear the news from your great country... Our hearts are so with you .. Bless you all and much love... We are all praying for you x

StillProcrastinating Sat 02-May-15 23:15:08

Thank you for taking the time to write this. Something I learnt from the Christchurch NZ earthquake is how quickly the rest of the world moves on, whilst the aftershocks can keep going and going.

I hope the aid is reaching those that need it, and that Nepal is able to rebuild quickly and safely.

Mamee Mon 04-May-15 09:06:26

THoughts go with you. I live in Christchurch NZ and have lived through so many quakes now I have lost count. I so understand your feelings. They are all so normal to me. It does get better with time, but it is a long hard road. "Quake brain," the inability to focus, lasts a long time. Then comes the adaptation to the new "normal". The fixing and when finally safe the utter exhaustion. Many of us are just starting to climb out of this phase now.
Look after yourself, you need time to refresh and process what has happened...go easy and don't expect too much from yourself. You are a victim too. Just do your best that you can, take advantage of feel good things and counselling if it is available.
((((((hugs))))))) It does get better. You are doing so well.

Ecudadordreaming Mon 04-May-15 22:18:33

Thinking of you all, I love Nepal and the Nepalese people are amongst the kindness in the world.

Love and strength to you all xx

Ecudadordreaming Mon 04-May-15 22:19:35

Thinking of you all, I love Nepal and the Nepalese people are amongst the kindness in the world.

Love and strength to you all xx

mumodthreeteens Tue 05-May-15 20:43:55

Thank you for sharing. It must have been, and continues to be, a very frightening experience. We have been following it on tv and it is heartbreaking to see the death and destruction.

I visited Nepal in '89, such a beautiful country with beautiful people. My heart breaks for you all.

Wishing you strength and courage to you, your family and your nation, in this very difficult time. X

Jaamess Tue 12-May-15 23:57:21

Hi its very bad news earth quake again happen in Nepal

You have nice info graphic and i want to update you that I also created one of earthquake info graphic kindly check. ::

Thanks and have a nice day !!

LowryFan Wed 13-May-15 11:53:21

Mumsnet do you know if Prajana and her family are ok following the second quake please? So bloody awful.

(I'm going to report myself to flag this up to you, hope that's OK.)

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