Bringing Christian Compassion to Nepal’s “Untouchables”

May 10, 2017 • Nepal
Ganga is a widow whose home was damaged in the earthquake. Nearly every home in her village, including the homes of her relatives, was damaged or destroyed.

In a village destroyed by the deadly 2015 earthquakes, Samaritan’s Purse is rebuilding homes for society’s outcasts.

The village in Kavre District, with its steep mountain terrain and winding, dirt paths, looks like many other villages in Nepal. Most families are farmers who’ve lived here for generations. They’re kind and incredibly hardworking.

Samaritan's Purse has rebuilt dozens of homes in the village of Dalits.

Samaritan’s Purse has rebuilt numerous homes in the village of Dalits.

One would never know these families are considered outcasts. They’ve lived their entire lives as the lowest of the low because they are Dalits—the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy. They are deemed untouchables, and they have no means to advance in society, as the better employment and educational opportunities are blocked to them.

Nearly every home in this village was destroyed when a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked the central region of Nepal on April 25, 2015. A second quake hit May 12, sending a new wave of fear and panic among Nepalis. Yet, two years later, this village of untouchables is making a comeback, as newly rebuilt houses with blue roofs decorate the mountainside.

The signature blue roofs indicate numerous homes that Samaritan’s Purse has reconstructed in the earthquake’s aftermath. About 25 percent of our rebuild work throughout Nepal is focused in this village.

Marginalized families are moving out of temporary shelters and into our safe, earthquake-resistant houses, and, as they do, anxiety is replaced with hope, gratitude, and love.

Nowhere to Turn

Gyami lives with her daughter-in-law, middle son, and five grandchildren in the village of untouchables. Her middle son is disabled and cannot walk, and her other two sons work in Kathmandu.

“There was no one to help,” Gyami said of events surrounding last year’s earthquake. “Everyone was crying. We had food, but it was all dumped in the mud when the house collapsed.”

Gyamai's husband left her about four years ago and she's struggling to make ends meet.

Gyamai’s husband left her about four years ago and she’s struggling to make ends meet.

Gyami and her family lived in a tent for one year. She said they had no idea how they’d rebuild, especially since she’s been on her own for four years.

“My husband left me for another woman. He took everything—land and money,” Gyami said.

Her sons in Kathmandu work hard and send money home, yet the family still struggles financially.

The news that Samaritan’s Purse would help her family was almost too good to be true.

“I couldn’t sleep the whole night when the person from Samaritan’s Purse said we are going to come and build the house,” Gyami said.

Gyami moved out of the tent a few months ago.

“We didn’t have a place to sleep,” she said. “Now, we have a house. We are very happy.”

A Widow Receives Help

Ganga was working in the corn field when the ground began to shake.

“I was so scared I couldn’t even move. My son came to fetch me,” she said.

Ganga’s husband died seven years ago, and chronic knee pain makes it hard for her to work.

They stayed in the field all day. They slept outside without mats or blankets because they were too afraid to return home and collect their belongings.

“We didn’t even eat anything,” Ganga said, as all their food was upstairs in the kitchen.

Sadly, feeding her family hasn’t become easier after the earthquake.

“Water scarcity has become a very big problem,” Ganga explained. “That’s why we cannot grow vegetables.”

The family eats a lot of corn because it can grow with little water. Their only other food staple is rice that they buy from the market.

Ganga’s husband died seven years ago, and her chronic knee pain makes it hard for her to work or travel to the market. Her two youngest sons live with her—one of whom has a mental disability—and her oldest two sons live nearby with their families. Many relatives also live in the village and every one of their homes was damaged.

Construction is underway on a new home for Ganga's family.

Construction is underway on Ganga’s new home.

Samaritan’s Purse is rebuilding Ganga’s house on property next door to her old house. Ganga can’t wait to move her family into a house that is clean, safe, and comfortable.

Her story is one that Samaritan’s Purse staff in Nepal hear time and time again, especially in this particular village. Families were working hard and doing the best they could before the earthquake—but it wasn’t enough. The earthquake then piled more sorrows and more struggles onto the shoulders of parents and grandparents who never imagined that life’s burdens could weigh them down even more.

Samaritan’s Purse is offering hope to this village desperate for some relief from pain and strife. As Christians, we cannot ignore the downtrodden, so we’re loving people in Jesus’ Name and bringing compassion to those who have for so long been forgotten. Please pray for our continued work in Nepal.

“For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever” (Psalm 9:18).