The situation with Nepal is, well, as usual in any other disaster cases, is that the hot news for international media is over. After documenting dead bodies, broken houses, crying people, they have left. The foreign aid is pouring, and the politics behind it continues. What has been portrayed as “everything lost” hides behind the difference between what “reality” and what can be portrayed as reality. It is important to understand that we have not lost everything, and Nepal is not flat all over as you might have seen in news and media. However, people are now trying hard to start living their normal lives among the torment of ongoing aftershocks. The physical damage remains, but the mental scar among the lives in general people are quite invisible unless one lives among them. People are not able to speak properly or think logically because they have been restless, most of the street-talk is about the quake, children get easily sick and irritated, but mothers (who are themselves in traumatized state) starts to blame their child for not co-operating.
It’s been more than a month since the last big earthquake hit Nepal, and aid for the victims focused more on providing basic needs (food, shelter, and clothes). Indeed in the time of emergency, people look out for the vital requirement for living, subsequently they seek secondary needs (e.g., education, sanitation, health) only after their basic necessity get fulfilled (Marshals Law). Due to current earthquake situation, trauma from an earthquake, ongoing shakes, uncertainty, and fear of loss of lives of loved ones, lead to tribulation for a disturbing mental state among the people. In Nepalese culture, the mental state of a person and psychological issues are somehow quite below the secondary needs, or can even be sometimes said not considered as need at all.
It has become common talk among adults to speak about quake-fear, shocking news they heard, complain about an inability to sleep properly, and how miserable their lives have been. If you are from Nepal or have been in Nepal (not limited to a touristic expedition) living around locals, you might have surely noticed our culture of “vomiting” your problem out. This has been the most common way to heal the trauma that has recently affected from the earthquakes. It is common that we like to speak and listen to others, to speak about your problems, even with strangers, with a smile. One friend who happens to recently visit Nepal commented “It is quite amazing how they explain the bad situation in so relaxed way even to me, we have never met before, but it seems like now I know a lot about the recent happening in that person’s life…. They can speak for hours, and in the end they always smile and say that ‘life is like that’, and usually ask to come inside their temporary shelter for a tea”. I agree about the open-heartedness and hospitable nature of people in Nepal, but there is a catch.
Unfortunately, mental treatment is limited to casual everyday talk; psychological strain is not taken seriously as a “problem”, nor diagnosed. Simple mental stress do get help with the help of speak, but a serious long-term problem needs treatment. Psychological issues are rather considered temporary sentiment and believed to pass away as time (and life) proceeds. Different forms of trouble like stress, grief, sorrow, anxiety, distress for long time are even considered as disability of some form or lead to treatment related to psychic assumption. A diagnosis of psychosomatic illness is appropriated lightly, considered to be shame of and most of the time hidden from others. In worst cases, victims are either shut down from other people, even kept tied in a room, and easily reach the state of being marginalized from society. It is a recent practice that an emotional need of a person and working out with children’s psychology is seen in public tradition. Also, there is a fair amount of articles in a local newspaper that inform about the earthquake-stress-induced problems.
This blog and project started because we strongly believe that it is important to look and think about people as well, and not only broken houses. We curiosities with the interest in us, the Nepalese people, our lives, how we are managing, resilience towards the disaster, strength towards coming future, power to the weak ones, and energy that we get from these strong people whose life and story convinces us that there is hope, and thus our self-reliance towards the people originated with the “Hope from Nepal”.
We will soon start to keep these lives and hopes high throughout our posts in future.