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The first thing I notice when I meet Goma Devi for the first time is her deep blue eyes, so rare among Nepalese people. Goma Devi lives alone in her newly constructed house in Dhobi, a remote village tucked among the high mountains of Ramechaap district, eastern Nepal.

When the earthquake struck on 25 April 2015, it was not only her house that collapsed, but her entire life. Her husband left the damaged house to live with his second wife. Her two sons moved to Kathmandu in search of better employment opportunities. She found herself alone, dealing with the visible and invisible consequences of the earthquake.

“I started feeling anxious, depressed, and isolated from my family and my community,” says Goma. “No one was helping me.” For more than two years, she lived in poor hygiene conditions under a leaky tarp. “During the rainy season, the water came inside. I was cold. I was dreaming about a new place to call home, but I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

Goma Devi now has a new house, one of over 1000 houses that have been built with the support of Medair and its Nepali partner CDS. Madan, one of Medair’s engineers, describes this life-changing project that brought Goma her new home: “We provide support during the different phases of the reconstruction process. We serve as a bridge between the local government and beneficiaries to make sure they understand the documentation required to obtain the government grants. We also help them purchase and transport the construction materials and provide technical supervision by qualified engineers to make sure their new houses are built according to the government codes for earthquake-resilient buildings.

But Madan stresses that building dignified and safe places to live encompasses more than just constructing new walls. “We want our people to live in safe and healthy conditions,” he says. “When we build people’s houses, we also construct improved toilet facilities and train people on healthy hygiene behaviours.”

Before and After: Goma Devi's New Home

“I am happy now,” says Goma Devi. For her, the new house is not only the promise of a better future. It is also proof of the solidarity that is possible when donors, Medair and its partner (CDS) staff, and her community unite for a common goal – helping Goma Devi recover. “I know I am safe in my new house,” she adds. “And now I know I am not alone anymore.”

In Nepal, Medair is working with its local partner CDS to rebuild 1,296 houses in a remote area of Ramechaap district, east of Kathmandu. Medair has also trained more than 600 local masons – men and women – on earthquake-resilient construction techniques.

Medair’s work in Nepal is supported by Swiss Solidarity, Woord en Daad, All We Can and generous private donors.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and global support office staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.