The 2015 Nepal earthquake was the worst disaster that the region had experienced for over 80 years. Older people were particularly vulnerable; 28% of those who died were older, despite older people only making up 8% of the total population. Discover how Age International helped some of the most vulnerable through the crisis...
“I had seen my wife go inside our house before the earth started shaking. So, I thought she had died," 67-year-old Bir remembers, growing increasingly emotional recalling the harrowing memory.
"I started crying. When I finally saw her, relief flooded through me and I ran towards her and hugged her. After realising our house was destroyed, I started to cry again. But my wife gave me courage; she looked at me and said 'we can build another house. At least we still have each other'".
"People don’t just die from disasters like this one; they die from the helplessness that comes after the disaster has happened. The support we received made sure we were not helpless. We are so happy and truly grateful for your support."
"At first, we didn’t want any help," Bir's wife, Tarka, tells us "But we soon realised we needed it."
In those first days and weeks, getting food, water and shelter was a priority. Age International gave Bir and Tarka blankets, a solar lamp, rice, materials for temporary shelter and some money - which would give the couple the flexibility to get exactly what they needed.
"The solar lamp is great!" Tarka says "We keep it on the roof so it can be in the sun all day. It's very helpful to have the solar lamp when the electricity cuts out."
The money that we gave the couple was literally life-saving. Tarka explains: "After the earthquake, there was a storm in Nepal. In the storm, my husband fell over and had to be hospitalised. The money we received paid for my husband’s medicine and hospital fees. It saved his life!"
In the months after the earthquake, Age International began to shift focus from the immediate life-saving aid, to longer-term help. This involves helping older people to re-build their homes, making sure they can earn a living, and providing healthcare.
We ran emergency health camps and gave eye tests to over 30,000 older people in Nepal. 5,000 people went on to get a free cataract operation to restore their sight.
"I got my eyes tested and got these glasses!" Tarka says "With my new glasses, everything is much clearer. I can walk safely and even do very minute tasks. Now, I can tell the different between rice and stones!"
"I am so happy someone helped us. Thank you to you all. I hope you live for 100+ years in good health. I wish you prosperity and happiness in your life."
Working with our local partners on the ground in Nepal, to-date we have provided:
- Healthcare for over 40,000 through a series of emergency health camps
- Eye-care to over 30,000 older people - including cataract operations for 5,000
- Cash for 10,000 people, so they could buy food and medicine in the early days and weeks after the disaster
- 5,000 older people with support to earn a living in the wake of the disaster
- Emergency shelter for 3,000 older people and their families
- Training for 2,000 older people to prepare them for potential future disasters