“On April 25th, just when the earthquake started I was working on the ground floor of my home, making door and window frames for my neighbour’s newly-built house. Four of my daughters, my son and son-in-law, as well as my three grandchildren, had gone to the field, while one of my daughters was playing on the third floor with her 1.5-year old son. Suddenly we heard a strange sound that shook the ground. I was shocked and started to shout loudly. I froze for some time, just standing there, holding a part of my house with my hands. Everyone was afraid, crying, shouting and running here and there to save the life of their kids. After 15 seconds the houses collapsed in front of my eyes. The surroundings were full of dust and misery. All of a sudden, I remembered my children, who were playing on third floor prior to the earthquake. I thought I lost all three of them that day. I tried to push the door to the room they were playing in open, but it was blocked by the bricks that had fallen down.”
He took a long breath and said, "I cleared the bricks, one by one. As I nearly finished removing the bricks from another door nearby, I heard my daughter’s voice. She was asking me if it was safe to come down. Just as I heard her voice, the ground underneath my feet was shaking slowly. With a sigh of relief, I told them to come down and go to a safe open area with me. Three of them were full of dust, as if they were made from soil itself. I thank God every day for having saved their lives."
When things settled down a little, Mr. Dangol finally noticed how badly his house was damaged. Apart from the floors supported by cracked pillars, everything was in ruin. "It isn’t easy to live a ‘normal’ life when food and clothes are scarce. It is even harder to live without a roof over your head. Forced to live outside, we spent nearly two weeks in the fields under tarpaulin." Mr. Dangol said with sadness in his eyes. Within 11 days of living in the field, he built temporary shelter using old tins, in which they moved 14 days after the earthquake.
No one has been to the top floor of his ruined house since the earthquake. The risk is too high. Mr. Dangol has been waiting for some governmental support to destroy the house he used to call home, or rather what was left of it, but to no avail. After 1.5 months of restless waiting, he started the work himself with the support of his family and friends. "My heart skipped a beat every time I worked on the house. I have no experience in such work, and the fear of the floors falling on me kept me restless. The house kept shaking as it did during the earthquake. But we viewed the work as an adventure, and had a great feeling of accomplishment,” said his 21 years old daughter, Susan Dangol. Due to the rainy season the destruction work is currently paused, and will continue after the monsoon season.
With a bitter sadness in his voice, Mr. Dangol said, "We have survived a horrific tragedy. In minutes we became homeless. For the last 60 years I had worked to make sure my children have the basics they need. Now we have lost everything. I cannot continue my work. My village is ruined, filled with the ghosts of the beauty that existed."
Although Mr. Dangol is 66 years old, he continues working as he did 10 years ago. He hopes to be able to rebuild his house through hard work and determination. The government currently takes no active part in assistance, yet he expects them to help in cleaning up and rebuilding the village.