“On Shifting Ground:” Three Years after the Nepal Earthquake

Three years ago, on April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The earthquake and aftershocks killed over 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000. Among those who mobilized staff and resources in the world’s response to this disaster were six Hilton Prize Coalition member organizations that were embedded in Nepal – BRACHumanity & Inclusion, Heifer InternationalHelpAge InternationalOperation Smile and SOS Children’s Villages.

Two years ago the Hilton Prize Coalition released the film “On Shifting Ground” to emphasize these six organizations’ collective response to disaster. Through the production of the film, the organizations involved gained greater familiarity with one another’s capacities in the region and formed a framework for collaboration.

Focused on a continuum of care for survivors of the disaster, one Hilton Prize Coalition member helped rehabilitate people who had survived injuries, some of them amputations. Ramesh Khatri was only 18 years old when Humanity & Inclusion’s Senior Physiotherapist Sunil Pokhrel began to work with him.

Ramesh recently recalled the day the earthquake claimed both his legs: “I was working in a small hotel, I had finished my day. The earth trembled, everything collapsed. Two people died where I was. I found myself crushed under the stones. I stayed there for at least an hour, conscious, in pain.”

© Elise Cartuyvels/Humanity & Inclusion

The film “On Shifting Ground” follows the rehabilitation work that Ramesh experienced through Humanity & Inclusion. During one scene, Pokhrel teaches Ramesh how to pop a wheelie on the back two tires of his wheelchair, allowing Ramesh to clear major obstacles in his path.

Since those initial wheelie lessons, Ramesh’s athletic skills have soared. “I do an hour and a half of bodybuilding every morning before school, and I swim every afternoon,” he said. “I play tennis and basketball on weekends. I was told that I didn’t know how to dance, so I trained and I won the dance competition “Differently Able Idol.” I have received 22 medals. My new goal: to participate in the Paralympic Games of 2020. But the road is long and hard: I need a coach to train me. I need equipment, and I cannot afford it.”

And seven years after dropping out of school, Ramesh has returned to the classroom. “I am the eldest of the family. The money I earn during my sporting competitions goes to my parents and my brothers and sisters, who live in difficult conditions, far from here. I went back to school because I want to have a job and get out of it.”

While physical therapy will be a lifelong journey for Ramesh, his story is a true testament to the necessity of long-term recovery plans after disaster. Humanity & Inclusion models how humanitarian organizations can best continue their work even after emergency relief efforts are over.

Each year, Ramesh gets faster and stronger, and his dreams get bigger. At this rate, nothing can stop him.

* All images © Elise Cartuyvels/Humanity & Inclusion

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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