Naresh, Ritu and Manju Bohora of Jugeda with their grandmother.
DHANGADHI, June 16: It has been more than a week since Santoshi Dhami, a 10th grader at Sharada Secondary School, Jugeda, has not been able to go to school as the ravaging storm on June 6 blew her books, notebooks and school uniform.
"I have got nothing to read and write on. I also don't have the uniform to go to school," said Dhami, adding, "I wandered from one place to another searching for them but could find them anywhere." Similarly, Naresh Bohora, a sixth grader at Durga Adharbhut School (DAS), Jugeda, too, has not been able to go to school for the last one week. "The storm blew away my uniform and books, preventing me from going to the school."
It is still uncertain how long these students will miss their schools as buying new uniform and books is a big deal for their poverty-stricken parents. Not only Naresh but also both his sisters Ritu and Manju lost their books to the storm.
There are a lot of students in Kailali and Kanchanpur districts who have remained absent at their schools since the storm. Reportedly, more than half the students in the storm-affected areas are not attending their schools since then, "The students have not been able to attend school regularly after the storm," said Bimala Khatri, a teacher of the Behadababa Basic School, adding, "We actually have 70 students but only around 15 of them are coming to the school these days."
According to her, especially the children whose houses were damaged by the storm are absent from the school. "Most of the books and stationery were blown away by the storm while some got wet in the water," said Khatri.
Mohan Bhandari, a teacher at DAS, says, "The houses of around 50 per cent students of this community were damaged by the storm." The devastating storm blew away the roofs of more than 1,700 houses. "We have no idea where the zinc sheets of our houses are," said Basudevi Bohara, Naresh's grandmother.
Bhandari further added that the education of around 200 students of the village has been hampered by the storm. Khadakraj Joshi, coordinator of INSEC Sudurpaschim chapter, says especially the Kamaiyas (free bonded laborers), squatters and underprivileged families have been affected by the disaster. "At a time when the victims are struggling to fix their roofs, we can't expect them to purchase new uniforms and stationery for their children," said Joshi.
Nripa Bahadur Ode, mayor of Dhangadhi, informed Republica that more than 6,000 houses were directly and indirectly affected by the storm in Dhangadhi alone. "Dozens of schools have been damaged and a large number of people have been displaced in the district," said Mayor Ode. He claimed that the local unit is trying its best to provide shelter and relief to the victims, stressing that the provincial and federal governments, too, must make efforts for their rehabilitation.