Children of Bhaktapur Lose Homes, Families


BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - Mako Gali, 16, is standing on a pile of rubble three stories high. She's watching the Nepali army use a long stick of bamboo to topple a building that is about to fall. She introduces herself and puts an arm around a woman in a red sari.

"This is my mother," Gali says and then looks at the bystanders. "And my father, brother and sister."

I reach out my hand to introduce myself but she stops me. She's not talking about them; she's only looking for their permission to talk to a foreigner.

"No, that is my uncle," she says. Then she points to the mountain of debris at her feet. "My father, brother and sister are here. They're dead."

Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and center of worship for Hindus and Buddhists was left in utter ruins following the quake on April 25 that destroyed religious temples and countless homes. Three hundred people are confirmed dead in the city of 100,000, a number that seems impossibly low considering the extent of the destruction. Crumbled houses with collapsed roofs are everywhere - like a photograph of the blitz in the Second World War. Most residents say they have given up hope on finding family alive and instead are only searching the rubble for precious family heirlooms.


Nearby, local Red Cross volunteer Amir Kapal's small home is still standing, but a massive crack cuts the building in half from the ground to the third story roof rendering it uninhabitable.

"I don't know what we'll do," says Kapal, 37. "We've been here for generations and we can't live here anymore. For now I'm just trying to make sure my neighbours have food and water. We're sleeping in a tent near the durbar (town square)."


Uniformed rescue workers from China, Switzerland and Japan can be seen searching wreckage and Nepali engineering teams are going from house to house inspecting and recording the damage. Local tourists are also trying to organize themselves, but with mixed results. One group of young Korean backpackers were handing out water and surgical masks to a group of Nepali men.

"We don't need them!" yelled one man, already wearing a mask. "Go find someone who needs them!"

Groups of disaster tourists can also be seen searching the area for the best spot to get that epic selfie.


Back on rubble mound, 16-year-old Mako Gali is smiling. Her smile, despite the loss of her entire family, is almost too much too take and she has to comfort a reporter 25 years her senior.

"Don't worry, my family has another house to stay in," she says. "This is my uncle's house. For now we can all stay there."