On the 25th of April, 2015, catastrophe struck Nepal in the form of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which claimed over 7,000 lives. Roads became dysfunctional, mobile networks jammed, marketplaces got shut, and in the vacuum created by shock and grief, the media rushed in.
When I landed in Kathmandu, on the 1st of May, shops were re-opening and taxi-prices reducing. The extra food I’d carried quickly seemed superfluous, given my hotel near the Pasupati temple had no shortage of food, electricity or water—comforts I wasn’t prepared for mentally by television reports.
Over the course of my stay, I visited Kathmandu, its outskirts and some distant mountain villages of districts Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha. The scale of sorrow was piercing—many had lost family members, yet more had lost homes. All had lost the ability to get a single night of peaceful sleep undisturbed by aftershocks, real or imagined.
What moved me most, however, was the remarkable resilience and warmth of the people. Despite the persistent trauma, people retained their sense of humour, apparent, for instance, in every bumpy bus ride where speed breakers were appropriated as aftershocks. Or as villager who chuckled while explaining to me that what held everyone together presently was the scale of tragedy, its shared aspect, and the absolute mistrust in their government.
In such calamitous circumstances, the media is an agency vital to accelerating relief work and funding. But often, the affinity for exclusives and the ‘big picture’ eventually reduces a tragedy to indifferent data, acknowledging only above-average suffering as newsworthy. On my visit to this breathtaking country. I attempted to find the faces behind numbers through individual stories and portraits, finding as many angles as I could to understand the long term effects of such a catastrophe and the apprehensions of those who survived it. an attempt to understand the unfathomable grief, one picture at a time.
all photos ©monicatiwari