“The first time I sat in front of a proper camera was when I first went to a photo studio to take a picture of myself for my citizenship card. That was decades ago and I have not faced a camera since.” shares Kishun Ram nervously looking at the camera that the assessment team was holding.
Kishun is not an angry man as he appears to be in the picture. That’s just him being nervous and needless to say, Kishun is not happy.
Kishun approached us as soon as we got down of our vehicle and asked us to check if his house was damaged enough. He grabbed one of the team members by the hand and asked the rest of us to come along and so we did.
“Apparently, losing everything to flood is not enough, they want me to lose my house too and only then I will qualify as a victim,” said Kishun as he took us inside his house. Only the Municipality team had approached before our team who had distributed about 8 KGs of rice and a kilo of Lentils to every house without differentiating but few organizations who had distributed food ration and shelter kit in other municipalities had not included houses like his in their list of victims which is why he feared that we would not count him in.
Now 67 years old, Kishun has been here since birth. The last flood he remembers before 2017 AD was about 11 years ago but it was not as big as it was 2 years ago. After the flood in 2017, he was hoping that it would not happen again but the area got flooded again in 2018, back then he had recently rebuilt his house and thankfully there was no damage to his house then. “Everything was going fine this year until we saw the Armed Police Force rushing into our village. Bakaiya (the river close to the settlement) had been roaring since the morning but that was all it did last year and we were hoping that 2017 will not happen to us twice but there was our police force requesting us to evacuate the place. It was about 3 pm when we got the warning. We did not have much time, we took everything we could carry and we went to the school nearby and sat down praying nothing happens to the house, hoping that it was a false warning and our home does not get flooded but our prayers did not work. I can’t recall the exact time of the disaster but it should be about 1 am when the flood reached our village, none of us were asleep then, we could not see anything but we could hear it approaching closer and closer. We stayed in the school for 3 days, the movement was not possible. We had carried food items with us when we left for safety but none of us could eat. We went back to our village on the fourth day after the water receded. At first, I jumped with joy seeing my house still standing but what I saw inside made me hate the fact that I was not caught in the flood. The structure stands tall but I know it will collapse anytime, my sons have already spent so much on the house and I do not want to burden them with another loan for rebuilding this house”, shared Kishun with the team.
Kishun worked as a porter at Gaur when he was young, he says that the earning was not bad but with 6 mouths to feed, saving money for future was something he could only dream of. He worked as much as he could but his aging body could no longer support his profession and he has not been working since the last 10 years. He has 3 daughters who are married and they only visit him sometimes, his sons stay with their families in Birgunj district so it’s only him and his wife at home. His sons used to visit him once a month and give them some money. They have their own families to take care of so every month they do take turns and give him NRs. 3000 every month which could cover for his and his wife’s medicines, and the remaining money could cover for oil and vegetables and other spices for him and his wife. They had ample quantity of rice stored in their house that could last them until next harvest but the flood swept away everything. His farm is still underwater and with that much water covering the farms, he will not have any production of grains this season. After the flood in 2017, his sons had asked him and his wife to come to Birgunj and stay with them but he did not want to leave the place. The entire community is like family to him so he does not want to go anywhere else, it took his sons about 6 months to rebuild the house after the flood in 2017. This time the structure stands still but there is nothing left inside.