Three months on

Three months have now passed since first of two major earthquakes struck Nepal. Three months and nearly 9,000 lives lost, 874,000 houses damaged, and 2.8 million in need of assistance. Now that the urgent relief phase has come to a close, Nepali communities struggle to piece back together their lives, and the longer and more complex work begins.

Disasters present unique challenges for women and girls. Concerns like early marriage and human trafficking, already lurking in the background (and sometimes foreground) of many of the villages where Her Turn operates, grow acute with the new lack of stability. The economic drivers of these risks have increased now that villages and their economies have taken significant hits and the normal networks of safety and stability have been damaged. Her Turn has been working in Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk, two of the most affected districts since 2012.

For villagers who have had to abandon their homes to sleep under tarps or tents, personal space is a distant memory. Women and girls share space with male relatives, and sometimes even neighbors. Simple acts like changing clothes or going to the bathroom require bravery as unlit common toilets are the only option for many girls. Some reported that if friends or female relatives are not available to accompany them, they wait til morning rather than risk encounters with strange men while relieving themselves at night.

And of course, healthy bodily functions, like menstruation, don’t take a pause for natural disasters. Beyond the cost of menstrual materials, with little facility to dispose of them, or privacy to change them, women must do mental somersaults to meet this most basic of needs.

Her Turn is helping by distributing Her Kits, our version of dignity kits that contain the most essential items for menstrual hygiene: underwear, towel, reusable menstrual pads, laundry soap, and bathing soap. Collaborating with People in Need, we’ve delivered 279 kits to women and girls in one camp for displaced people. We’re also returning to villages where we’ve held Her Turn workshops to reconnect with alumni, our Girls Support Committees and mentors. We’re bringing Her Kits for the students and holding refresher discussions on safety in light of the increased risk of early marriage and trafficking. So far we have distributed over 1,200 kits and emergency resource sheets to girl students of thirteen schools in Sindhupalchok and Gorkha districts.

But more are needed and we can’t do it alone. For $5 (about the cost of a box of tampons in the US), we can put together and deliver one Her Kit. It’s a small price to pay to restore a girl’s dignity and support her safety. With just a small donation from many of our supporters, we can do it together.