Introducing Kanchi Maya Tamang! A resident of Kaule, Nuwakot district and a single mother for 20 years after her husband passed away. Kanchi single handedly raised three children in rural Nepal. She now lives with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild. Both her daughters live with their husbands in another village. She earns a living from her land, tending to the crops.
On April 25, 2015, she was working in the field when the ground began to shake. Her immediate concern was for her family, but as she saw her house fall to the ground, she wondered how she could afford to rebuild it. Kanchi’s house was totally destroyed. This made her feel upset as she had fond memories of her home. She had raised her children and spent her entire life there. Luckily, her family members were outside, so no one was injured.
The family had to move to a nearby farm and live in a communal shelter in the months after the earthquake. “We had to live in a temporary shelter for eight months because we could not afford to build a new house,” she recalls. “It wasn’t very comfortable living in the temporary shelter, as there was little protection from wind and rain. So, we wanted to move back into our house as soon as possible.”
Whilst living in the temporary shelter, Kanchi looked into how she was going to rebuild her house. As a single parent with limited income, her options for rebuilding were sparse. Through community members, she learnt of a program being run jointly by The American Red Cross, Nepal Red Cross and Build Change. The program would provide financial support of up to Rs. 300,000 (about 3,000 USD) to rebuild her house in addition to free technical support, including the provision of house drawings.
A technical team consisting of engineers and social mobilisers from the American Red Cross and Build Change visited Kanchi’s house and provided her detailed information on her options for rebuilding. They showed her photos and details of the kind of houses that could be built, as well as guidance on the process of obtaining the government housing grant.
The family took some time to consider all the different types of houses available. With the help from the American Red Cross and Build Change, the family decided to build a two-room stone and mud house. The house took eight months and cost Rs. 360,000 (about 3,600 USD) to complete.
Kanchi recollects that one of the things that helped her out in the construction of her house was the ability to pool and share the labor of the community. “If it wasn’t for the ‘Parma’ system, I would not have been able to build my house,” The ‘Parma’ system is an innovative system to help those who are vulnerable and not necessarily be able to afford the cost of a new house or build a house that is earthquake resilient.
As most of her community members have lot of time, but little money, they cannot afford to hire workers, but can spare the time to do the work themselves. The ‘Parma’ system works by all households sharing the responsibility. Each family needs to contribute a share of the labor to build each house in the ‘Parma’ group. This brings significant cost savings to all members of the community.
Kanchi and her family have been living in their new house for a few months now. She says, “I am very happy that our house is complete, and we are once again able to have a home. After what seemed like an endless period of sorrow and despair, we are once again able to stand up and run.”
From Build Change
Photo by Jayden Reynolds