By Lalita Gurung, IFRC

Juusman Tharu, 50, and her family have spent the last week clearing the mud and debris from their house in western Nepal. Her husband has now started to repair the damage, using all the materials he can gather together. But all is far from well.

“Since the floods, my baby grandson who is one year old has been taken to hospital having had diarrhoea for 2 weeks and my grand-daughter who is 15 has been bedridden with malaria.”

Juusman says the floods have been a severe blow to the family, with the wheat flour and rice they had in storage washed away and nine chickens and one goat kid drowned.

“My vegetable patch was completely destroyed. I usually make around NPR20,000-25,000 (20 or 25 dollars) a month selling vegetables; now I will have to wait until two months for the next harvest.”

Returning to ruins

When Juusman returned to her home from the police station, where she spent two days sheltering from the rising flood waters, she found only the frame and the roof left and all her food stocks and meagre possessions swept away.

All she could save was a few handfuls of mustard seed and green beans.

“It’s going to be very difficult next two months as it will be Dasain festival time (Nepal’s most important festival) in three weeks and I have no savings.”

Red Cross helps with household goods

Juusman’s family is one of 42 who received relief items kits distributed by the Nepal Red Cross in this community.

The Red Cross has so far helped more than 10,000 flood-affected families like Juusman’s with the sets of relief items, which include blankets, clothing, a kitchen set, a tarpaulin and several clothing items.

She is grateful to receive the NFRI kits, since she can use the new clothing materials to make clothes for grandchildren and she and husband could use the dhoti and saree – traditional Nepali male and female garments.

But the experience of the last few weeks has been a nightmare she is still reliving. “Around seven or eight in the morning of 14 August we started getting news that the river level was rising and that the neighbouring communities had water flowing into their homes.”

Gathering the livestock

As the family got the news, they began gathering their livestock, placing five goats and a kid on the bullock cart and all their possessions on top of a bed.

“Initially the water level was up to our ankles but suddenly the water level increased without warning to our waist level. We realized we must escape immediately, I ran with my family to a neighbor’s house, which is 2 storey high, we were more than 12 families there.”

As the water level started to increase, the family moved again and went to the police station which was at a higher level, where they stayed for two days.  The scene of devastation which they returned to will take time and hard work to make good again, but timely help from the Red Cross will at least ease some of the initial struggle.