—Usha* and her two cousins were outside playing when her home started to violently shake.
Within just a few seconds, Usha watched her home crumble to the ground. Her relatives inside—including her mother and father—were buried beneath the rubble. Usha, 10, would never see her parents again.
|Usha stands in front of her collapsed home shortly after the earthquake struck.
The village director and a social worker from SOS Sanothimi—one of 10 SOS villages in Nepal—visited Usha in her hometown of Bhaktapur. They learned that her only surviving relatives, two uncles and an aunt, are very poor and were not prepared to care for her.
Usha was welcomed by her new SOS family to an SOS Village in Sanothimi on May 7.
At the village, she lives in a house with nine SOS brothers and sisters and a trained SOS mother. There are a total of 160 children who live at the Sanothimi village, which is located just a few miles southeast of Kathmandu.
“On the day Usha arrived, she had difficulty adjusting to the SOS family. She was crying and was very upset,” said Shankar Pradhananga, national director of SOS in Nepal. “She slept with her SOS mother the first few nights. With the affection and care she received from her and her new siblings, Usha started adjusting to the SOS family on her second day.”
Since the earthquake, there have been 35 children like Usha—children who lost their caregivers to the earthquake and have no one to look after them anymore—who have found a new home with their new SOS families.
“Children who lost their parents in the earthquake face a challenging psychological recovery process,” Mr. Pradhananga said. “To accept their SOS mother as their new guardian and their SOS siblings as their own siblings is a bit difficult for children at the beginning. The traumatic loss of their parents and siblings haunts them regularly.”
Usha now sleeps in the girls’ room with her other SOS sisters. She is already attending her fourth-grade class at the SOS school in Sanothimi, which was opened in 1973 and enrolls about 900 students—most of whom live in the surrounding communities. Her favorite subject is the Nepalese language.
Usha aged 10, discusses her work with her teacher in her classroom in SOS Children's Villages Sanothimi. (Photo Credit: Suzanne Lee)
Usha has been getting along well with her brothers and sisters. She has struck a particularly strong bond with a toddler who, like Usha, lost her caregivers to the earthquake.
"All the SOS siblings accepted her wholeheartedly, said Mr. Pradhananga. "Usha is eager to learn at school and she likes very much to feed the fish that live in the fish tank at her SOS home.”
*Usha is an alias created to protect the child's privacy.
To learn more about how SOS Children’s Villages is helping vulnerable children and families recover from the earthquake in Nepal, view our recently updated Nepal Recovery Page.