Report from Nepal: How people are surviving the earthquakes

Kent Page of UNICEF talks about what he saw when the ground started to shake in Nepal on Tuesday and explains how people there are helping children cope with the psychological trauma of having lived through two major quakes in just over two weeks.

'I was terrified. I can't imagine what it would be like for a child'

How is Nepal dealing with another earthquake? Kent Page of UNICEF is helping people there survive and rebuild. He tells us what he saw when the ground started to shake on Tuesday.

Just two weeks after a deadly, 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Himalayan city of Kathmandu another huge tremor struck Tuesday in the town of Namche Bazaar. 

This comes as people there have been working to rebuild the damage done by the first quake which struck on April 25. More than 8,000 people have been killed so far.

Kent Page of UNICEF is helping people there survive and rebuild. In the audio interview with CBC Hamilton's Conrad Collaco at the top of this page, he tells us what he saw when the ground started to shake on Tuesday. Page has been in Nepal since Monday April 27, two days after the first quake hit. He spoke to the CBC from Kathmandu on Wednesday morning.

Here's an abridged and edited version of that conversation.

Where were you when Tuesday's earthquake hit?

I was in an elementary school assessing damage from the first quake. We were deep inside one of the classrooms when the earthquake hit. It hit hard. It hit very fast. And it was very scary. You just run out to a small courtyard. Very scary. The earth is rocking and rolling and the buildings are swaying back and forth and there is this horrendous noise that comes out of I don't know where.

How much did the second quake disrupt the repair work you had started?

When the earthquake happened yesterday everybody stops. Our supply chain and delivery system sending supplies to remote areas is up and running. Yesterday we had staff in all of the most heavily hit areas. Our work wasn't interrupted much. There's more work to be done. Supplies were still making it out.

How are conditions in remote areas of Nepal?

Things are pretty bad. It depends on what village you are in. A lot of people are sleeping outside tonight because they are just too terrified to sleep under shelter. There were two major aftershocks overnight. We are worried about not only children's physical well being but also their psycho-social well-being. The kids here have been through two major earthquakes in just over two weeks. I was terrified. I can't imagine what it would be like for a child. If we get them in to safe places the children can bounce back quickly.

How are children being helped after living through two devastating earthquakes?

Three things: We've set up child friendly, safe, places to play. Second, we have a radio program that broadcasts across country where parents can call in to talk to a psychologist who can advise on how to talk to their children about dealing with their trauma. Third, I was at an art therapy session for kids. They express themselves through their drawings. We have counsellors who can talk to the kids. I talk to the children and ask if they want to go back home. They say "no." They're too scared to go home. They're afraid their homes will collapse.

A message for Canadians:

I'd just like to thank the Canadians who have donated to UNICEF and other aid organizations working here. The people of Nepal really need your support and they really deserve it. They wanted me to pass on a message to say that they are down but they are not out and they really appreciate the support they are getting from Canadians.


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