Over 100 Christians in Nepal have been reported dead after church buildings fell during the earthquake that occurred on April 25th, 2015. The numbers are continuing to rise. Thousands of Christians have lost their homes and are sleeping in tents. Several of the victims are being treated in government hospitals; however, the hospitals are packed, and people are finding it difficult to get proper treatment.
Simon Thapa, a member of the Mukti Ko Darshan Church, was admitted to Teachings Hospital in Kathmandu. Both of his legs were fractured when his church building fell. Now, there is no one to provide for his family. “My family will have to face much financial struggle until I am once again fit to work,” he mentions sadly. There are several families experiencing similar circumstances where their sole provider has died or been seriously injured.
Apart from the injuries and deaths, there are villages where hundreds of houses have been destroyed, yet the majority of people managed to escape. In Madhevista village, 35 Christian families lost their houses because of the earthquake. As nearly 200 believers were fellowshipping on Saturday, the severe earthquake struck. The church building suffered some cracks, but the houses of 35 Christian families were destroyed.
“Had we not been in the church that day, we would have died too. We have since set up 9-10 tents where groups of Christians are living together,” mentions Suman Thapa, pastor of the church. The pastor’s house was also brought to ruins by the earthquake. Initially, nearly 60 people were living together in one tent. Now, a few more tents have been arranged, and 30 people are living in one tent.
“We need more tents for our families. Many people living together like this is not hygienic. There is a chance of epidemics spreading,” shares the pastor. The believers, most of them very poor, are sharing the resources they have received from their family and friends. Very limited aid has reached this village. The people still lack food and clothes and are in desperate need of proper shelter.
Santamaya, a very poor sister from the church, shares her story: “My house fell, and I lost what little I had in this earthquake, but I am thankful that my kids and I are safe.” Santamaya’s husband died five years ago, and she has three children to feed. She works in a restaurant to provide for her family. This earthquake has added more challenges to her life.
Another sister named Chininani Mali showed us her house, which has also been demolished. “I am not even able to search for my belongings among the ruins because the building has not come down completely. It could fall any time because it has heavy cracks in it,” she says.
People are afraid to enter their houses and are therefore living in tents. Due to the shortage of tents, nearly 20 people are staying together in one tent. “My daughter has been very ill and has been bedridden for the last four years,” shares Christian woman Surjamaya Sunar. “It is very difficult to keep her in the tent as the conditions here are very unhygienic.”
Champi a village in Lalitpur, was another horrid sight. Around 25 Christian people are all living together in one tent. The temperature in the night drops to nearly 50 degrees, and when it rains, it gets even colder. In such conditions, staying in the tents without any blankets or warm clothes is surely a challenge.
“We hope in the Lord; He will surely help us,” says Saraswati Nepali (30) from Champi. Saraswati is a widow and works as a domestic helper to take care of her children. Saraswati’s house was also completely destroyed when the earthquake struck.
The situation of Christians who were affected by the earthquake is tragic in many rural areas. Many Christians have been facing discrimination from their societies. After the earthquake hit, they were not provided with any kind of relief. Nissi Church and Alpha Church in Sindupalchok were not even provided with help to remove dead bodies from the debris. This was despite the fact that the Christians submitted requests to government officials several times. They had to hire cranes to do the job themselves. Church members are living together in tents and are arranging for their meals with the help of their family and friends from other places. Christians have no hope to receive help from the government.
Open Doors is investigating the need; we will keep you updated on any opportunities for you to help support these believers in need.