Girls and women hit-hardest by flood

Marang Mai Soren

Dhanpalthan, Morang 29 August 2017 – A woman in her mid-twenties comes forward carrying a small metal water-pot (Lohota). She puts the Lohata in front of the feet of a guest, whom she thinks is the chief among the guests, and bows down in salutation. It is the way of welcoming guests to their home or community among the Santhal people.

Marang Mai Soren, 27, a resident of Dhanpalthan Rural Municipality ward no. 6, is one of the people affected by the recent floods in the Tarai. She has lost her house, food stock, clothes, household utensils and standing crops and vegetables.

A flood in the Lohondra River swept away all her belongings on the night of 13 August 2017, rendering her homeless. She was forced to take shelter at Pindeshwari Primary School, one kilometer away from her residence at mid night.

“I got up at 1:00 a.m. I saw water around. I was so startled. I wake all family members and neighbours up and all of us ran away seeking a safer place,” recalls a mother of two children. There were about 500 people taking shelter in the school premises. The flood waters reached even the school compound, further terrifying the already cowed children, pregnant and lactating women, people with disability and the elderly.

Somehow the villagers managed to keep the school premises safe. But there was a problem. The school had just 2 toilets and there were about 500 people. Rest of the open places were inundated. So the people had great difficulty in using the toilets. Almost all people stayed in the school for 4 days. One can imagine, how hard it could have been for those people.

“I just took a few pieces of biscuit and a few cups of tea for 4 days, fearing the need for going to the toilet more frequently. Now you can imagine, what could have been the condition of pregnant and lactating women and the elderly people. Particularly the menstruating girls and women had a very difficult time,”says Marang with a sigh.

A view of the flooded land of Marang Mai Soren

She has returned to her damaged house. Marang has a hard time to feed her family as she has no food grains left, no money to buy food and clothes, and no hope for harvesting vegetables farmed in 8 Kattha (29,000sq feet) of land as the vegetables have completely been destroyed.

Apparently, there were no space for taking a rest for the people as the school premises was so crowded. They had no place to lie down either.

Some local people distributed some beaten rice and puffed rice from the next day. However, young girls and women like Marang could not eat to their satisfaction as there was problem in using a toilet.

According to Mohammad Hussein, the newly elected chair of ward no. 6 Khayartole, The Luther World Federation (LWF) Nepal distributed 15 kg of rice, 2 kg pulse, 2 kg beaten rice, 1 liter cooking oil, 1 kg salt and 1 blanket each to 64 families of Khayartole through its local implementing partner Lutheran Community Welfare Society.

He said that he was making efforts to bring resources to support the affected people. Thanking LWF Nepal for providing relief to the flood-hit families in an extremely risky situation, he also requested LWF Nepal to provide support for early recovery of the affected families there.

Marang appeals the humanitarian and development organizations to support her to restore livelihood.

Story by Ram Sharan Sedhai, LWF Nepal and photos by Prajjwal Maharjan