“Cables are not swinging anymore, yes?”

There were three aftershocks yesterday, which were more or equal to 4. This morning students went to school, people went to work, shops were open normally, and things seemed like normal. Aftershock is not considered to be big thing now and people of Nepal are moving on. Amidst the hard times of recovery process, it is possible to find gems in a chaotic debris of destruction.

I have been spending times with kids assisting them to learn to take photos. I like to collect their stories. There are many things I learn about them and couple of heartfelt experience. I love the way how photography allows people to be able to produce visual materials worth value of articulate. In one of the many sessions yesterday, while Rishu(8yrs) was writing a poem, Risan(6yrs), her brother, ran quickly near their camp and came back with a photo and eager to show me.
B: Risan, what have you got in a photo?
R: “batti ko taar” (cable to bring light)
B: “Why?”
R:*smiling and confused*
B: did you see anything there or what do you want to show me?
R: *Rishu trying to assist her brother* “halleko chaina ho?” (cables are not swinging, yes?)
R: *nodded his head and took me with my hand to show that place, and pointing towards sky with some lines of electricity cable above broken houses* that moved some days ago, we don’t have home, I cannot go to school, and my parents are crying.
Rishu: *came running after Risan* Due to earthquake, now and then it swings and my grandpa is very scared and grandma starts to pray. Today it swinged twice I felt very scared. It is not moving now hopefully it does not swing anymore.

Risan: *Rishu trying to assist her brother* "halleko chaina ho?" (cables are not swinging, yes?) Photo: Risan Shrestha

Risan: *Rishu trying to assist her brother* “halleko chaina ho?” (cables are not swinging, yes?)
Photo: Risan Shrestha

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Activities you do together can be healing with children.

I wrote about the “vomiting” culture in a previous post. Even though “vomiting” is common for adults, it is not common among the children at all, nor adults speak to children about it. The unseen mental stress of child fatality is thus mostly found in shadows. In this post, I write about my experience about interacting with children in an affected region and fun things I like to do as a way to be with them and share our familiarities together. I am not a specialist in this subject and besides not trying to be subjective in this topic, nonetheless trying to share the things that I absorbed along the way.

a poem and a drawing made in the session at balkhu

a poem and a drawing made in the session at balkhu

After helping to distribute relief supplies with local community personal, I usually spend sometimes with kids. It usually saddened me every time I interact with them and learning how much mentally and psychologically the earthquake has traumatized them. Not everyone but some of them were shocked, scared for any movement, are not able to speak, and are mostly staring at one certain place with eyes wide open. While trying to speak with them, the sense of cold touch in their hands made me feel how, in our culture, as I talked earlier, lack in understanding of mental problem and importance of psychological support towards people who are in need for that. That practice of when one don’t know what’s happening, blame it to the bad spirit or some angry god.

photo took by one of the child during a session

photo took by one of the child during a session

While being with children, I am mostly being with them, nothing whatsoever planned way, but just hanging around. Sometimes speaking with them about experiences, knowledge sharing, listening to how they feel, writing, drawing, telling jokes, making things out of papers, and playing games in groups. It is actually not so difficult as you might think it is.

they usually love to do activities together

they usually love to do activities together

Some children are usually shy in the beginning and might be still not comfortable to be with strangers right away, so I don’t expect to happen anything fast. The thing I need is the willingness to be in their physical level (sit in ground), smile, willingness to hear, ask question about them and their interest, feel free to tell about myself in simple way, respecting their views, little (sometimes lot of!) patient, and no expectations whatsoever from the interaction. In most cases, the session goes forward towards learning to use camera and photos of things they seem to tell or value. Not all the time is suitable or time for kids to interact with you, it so I usually try to be sensitive towards that too.

a child run towards his house when his mother asked to come to eat lunch

a child run towards his house when his mother asked to come to eat lunch

Does it sound difficult? I thought the same in the beginning, but surprisingly it does not take time once you forget yourself as an adult and become friend with them. And what about the whole group, you might think if it sounds difficult with one child. I have good news; it usually happens that once I am able to interact with few children, in no time there will be a bunch of others joining as an interest or curiosity.

kids play in the rubbles of broken house

kids play in the rubbles of broken house

Sometimes I have realized that it is also about the trust I am able to create with them and how much I am comfortable with them, which further can be seen from them reflecting upon back to me. Just like simple saying goes “to create a trust and respect, you need to be able to give trust and respect to the others!”

writing and drawing is always popular

writing and drawing is always popular

sunshine drawing made by Ruksana

sunshine drawing made by Ruksana

Besides, I have revisited the same location twice or even thrice and have managed to find few kids from previous session who has been so happy to see me and have been sort of “recommending me” about the things they did with me to other new kids and thus the trust pass over to new ones without any effort.

multiple visit always is fun and easy than first visit

multiple visit always is fun and easy than first visit

A mark of a month since the earthquake hit.

It’s been exactly one month mark since the first devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake striked in Nepal, killing more than 8600 people. This quake, on April 25, hit almost all parts of Nepal including some part in India and China, but few districts have been affected severely. This mass damage not only ruin houses killing many people but made thousands of homeless families and orphan children. Because of this big earthquake, unsettled earth has caused many big and small after- shock and thus people are uncertain and scared with the shocks that occur now and then. Media and experts nevertheless assured people that there is less possibility for a big shock. Days after the first quake, people started to get back to their normal lives still in fear. However on May 12, a second major tremor hits the country tearing down the remaining infrastructure and hundreds of people died.  The landslide caused by a quake in a hilly region of the country has created fear and risk for the whole village and have been displaced to a nearby safe location.