UN student returns to home country of Nepal to support relief effort

Date 13.11.2015

When the earthquake hit his home country of Nepal in April 2015, University of Northampton student, Abhishek Bhutoria’s first reaction was to return home and round up friends and family to primarily help with the relief effort.

He said: “I was in Ahmedabad, India preparing my portfolio for my PhD in Architecture and I was shocked by the news and images I was seeing on TV and through social media. My sister and I immediately got a train to Delhi and flew straight back to Kathmandu – our first thoughts being what can we do to help those in our native country?”

Abhishek’s team started off by supplying immediate relief materials to villages, depending on their individual needs. With support from various agencies, companies and the local community, they managed to distribute materials to 14 villages, primarily in the Sindhupalchowk, Kavre and Nuwakot region over 16 days.

Having recently completed an MSc in Integrated Urbanism from the University of Northampton, Abhishek decided to get involved in a building project with the aim of constructing 200 transitional shelters for those people who had lost their homes.

He said: “We visited the village of Bhotsipa in Sindhupalchowk, which is in one of the most severely affected areas, surveyed the damage and collected the required data. After a discussion with the team members and villagers, we decided to proceed with the building project. However this required a lot of funding so we contacted a number of groups and organisations. Initially we struggled, but where there is a will, there’s a way and eventually we started receiving money from other sources.”

The team was then able to start building the shelters around mid-May and despite having to take a week out due to a financial issues and a shortage of materials, they managed to complete 110 shelters in just over two weeks. After unfortunately breaking his ankle, Abhishek had to take a step back from the groundwork, but by the end of June and with support from the villagers, 193 shelters had been successfully completed.

Abhishek commented: “After we had completed our building project, I felt that this was a great beginning for such a sad reality and we owe gratitude to the many people around the world for the magnitude of support we have received.

“The entire experience is truly hard to express in words. There was grief, sadness and tears but the uplifting thing was that I have never seen my country work at such a pace. There were people who came for humanitarian purposes and took new responsibilities and any work they could; from fundraising to lifting heavy sacks of rice or building shelters with such passion that they were working non-stop throughout the day and night.

“But the important thing we need to reiterate is that there is still so much work to do. Water supplies are running low and food is becoming scarce. There is still the risk of disease and infection so we are urging people around the world not to forget Nepal’s plight as the media coverage subsides.”

Watch the team in action in a short video filmed by I For Nation​.