"Had they not come to support us, we would have no option other than to live in open space”
When the rain fell hard and the water rose, 62 year-old Arjun Bishku and his wife climbed a mango tree for safety. It wasn’t until 24 hours later that they were able to come down and take stock of the damage.
The couple had lost their home, their land and their cattle. They were not the only ones.
Monsoon rains caused flooding in the southern plains of Nepal in August 2017, affecting 1.7 million people. Some 120 people lost their lives, and 100,000 people had to be rescued from rising floodwaters. More than 460,000 people were forced to abandon their homes and seek emergency and transitional shelter.
Many, like Bishku and his wife, lost everything.
Fortunately for them, Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) and their partner LWF Nepal were ready to take action. Bishku and his wife were chosen for a housing grant and were able to construct a two-room raised house. The couple contributed to the construction of the house by providing bamboo and mud for walls, as well as labour. LWF supplied rings and pans to make toilets.
"Had they not come to support us, we would have no option other than to live in open space,” said Bishku.
In the beginning, without a regular means of livelihood, Bishku took on small jobs when he could, and the couple lived on the rice, lentils and other essential commodities provided by LWF.
Considering their age and their lack of a source of revenue, the LWF also provided a recovery grant, to stimulate economic independence. With the money, Bishku bought a baby cow and a fishing net. Fish is one of the main sources of nutrition in the region.
"I have been catching fish almost every day since I bought the fishing net a month ago," said Bishku. "The fishing net has already helped us to generate income and the cattle will become profitable within a few years," he said with a smile.
His wife is smiling too. "Could an old couple like us expect more than this new house, cattle and a fish net?" she asked.
Although the flood caused pain and loss in the lives of many people like Bishku, support from the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund (CHAF) has enabled them to survive, to recover, and to get a fresh start on life.