The Raleigh host mothers: Remembering the Nepal earthquake

25th April 2016

On 25th April 2015, over 21,000 people were injured when the devastating earthquake struck Nepal. One year on, Raleigh volunteers have been working alongside rural communities affected by the disaster, working to improve water sanitation facilities and creating job opportunities for the Nepali youth. But none of this work would be possible without the kindness and generosity of the women who have shared their homes with the volunteers. Raleigh Photographer Saraya Cortaville visited the Raleigh host mothers in Nepal, who shared their powerful stories from the time of the earthquake.

Shanta lives in the village of Nibuwater where she works in the fields growing and selling crops.

“After the earthquake, we were too frightened to return to our homes. We slept out on our crops for over a week with other villagers until we felt safe enough to return to our houses.  It was cold and wet out on the crops. The women were the first to return to the houses, we needed to be inside. Everyone in the community came together to help one another, but we held hope that more help was on its way.

I am very happy with the arrival of the ICS Raleigh volunteers in Nibuwater. The boys staying in my home are very funny and have the youthfulness and strength of young free minds – I am treating them like my own sons.  They are helping the community with our water problems, as at certain times of the year people in the community struggle to get access to water.”


Maili is a grandmother living in the village of Kiteni.

“I was at home with my family when the earthquake struck. The house shook in the tremors and in the turmoil I broke my leg.  When the shaking stopped, my family struggled to move me because of my injuries, but they knew we must move to a safe place away from the house.  We took refuge in a school field where we slept for a month, before moving into a one-story building for shelter. Many families in the village have suffered great damage to their homes and have had to move to the larger cities where they feel it is safer.

We are very thankful to see the Raleigh volunteers here in Kiteni.  We have a lot of water difficulties in our community, so I am happy and excited that they are here to help improve this.”


Sita is from the village of Bhalu Khola where she lives with her three daughters.

“When the earthquake struck, my biggest fear was for my daughters who were not with me. The shaking was violent and I fell over.  I miscarried my baby boy of six months at this time.

It is great having young volunteers in the village to work with us in the wake of the earthquake.  Their youth and energy is a powerful thing, and my family are excited at the opportunity for us to learn from one another.  I am taking very good care of them while they stay in my home.”


Godmaya is a grandmother living in Kiteni.

Women of rural Nepal - Godmaya“During the earthquake there were many landslides and many houses were damaged.  The community all moved up to the local school to be together as we were scared.  We stayed there for a week until the aftershocks stopped. Only then we felt safer. It took about a month and a half for people to be brave enough to go back and live as normal inside their homes. The community pulled together and helped each other, but we are still struggling to make repairs.”


Ganga-Devi is a grandmother from the village of Basuki.  Her daughter, Suvetra, lives in the same village. 

“I was cutting grass in the fields with other women from the village when the earthquake struck. As the tremors took hold, I could see the houses cracking. But I wasn’t afraid. If God wants me to die, then I am prepared for that. So I went back to my house, lay in my bed and went to sleep.

I am really happy to have the girls staying with me in my home.  It feels like I have 4 daughters staying with me again.  I know that they and the other ICS Raleigh volunteers will bring about a positive change in the village.  They are like my grandchildren – they are keeping me young!”


Suvetra lives in the village of Basuki.  She has two children, her daughter Sudha is 13 years old and her son Samyog is 10 years old.

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“At the time of the earthquake my children were in Hetauda with their grandparents.  I had to travel down to Hetuada in an ambulance to find them and it was over a day until we found out that they were safe. My son, Samyog, was traumatized and in shock, but he was mostly okay.

When the earthquake struck my mother was working out in the fields. She said she could see the houses breaking apart in front of her and that she was frightened.  Many houses were destroyed in the earthquake. They were rebuilt as makeshift wooden houses just in case there was another earthquake, which is what we are living in now. But we have decided that we are going to build a new house in Hetauda. This will be better for my family.”


Thuli-Didi lives in Nibuwater.  She owns a shop and roadside restaurant, which she runs with the help of her family.

“When the earthquake struck I was at a women’s meeting and my husband Rajan was taking care of the shop. It was scary not being with him. Once we found each other we both felt much safer, but we still didn’t want to return to our home. With him and the rest of my family, we stayed in the shop for over a week after the earthquake. This felt safer as the shop is only one level high. Some people were left without toilets and water, so many of us shared facilities to help each other out.

It is exciting having the Raleigh volunteers here in the community.  They are helping young people in Nibuwater to start up their own businesses, which is good as there are very few job opportunities around for the younger generation.  I am also glad that they are going to spread the message about our water difficulties.”


Communities in Nepal continue to rebuild one year after the earthquake. Could you stand side by side with Nepal’s young people to create lasting change? Apply now