When the walls started to shake, 17-year-old Rojina was lying in the delivery room of a remote village, preparing to give birth to her first child. One of the biggest moments of her life was thrown into chaos by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Health workers sprang into action and, as the building started to crumble around them, carried Rojina outside and into an open grassy area.
Ram Prasad lead the rescue. "The first thing I remember that day was being worried about my family, especially the safety of my children," he said, "but I also had a very important duty in front of me."
Four terrifying hours later the aftershocks subsided and Ram took his patient back into the clinic. Against all odds, he safely delivered a little boy.
Rojina's mother, Maya, was ecstatic. "I am so grateful to the health post staff," said the new grandmother. "I couldn't believe that my daughter was alive and had given birth to a healthy baby boy."
His name is Himal but his village has come to know him as Bhukampa Bahadur: literally, 'earthquake brave'.
"They come here every day just to see him, hoping that he brings good luck to them," Rojina said.
Himal has become quite an attraction for locals and those travelling by the village. © UNICEF/UNI189492/Panday
“Seeing him makes me feel so optimistic
as his birth proves that there was also
life and not just tragedy on that day.”
"People have lost their homes and their lives have been severely affected," says Ram, "but to see him alive today makes everyone so happy."
Ram lost his health post that day but UNICEF soon set up a medical tent so his lifesaving work could continue. It's allowed baby Himal to get the health care he needs during the crucial first months of his life.
A nurse gives Himal a checkup at the UNICEF-supported medical tent. © UNICEF/UNI189488/Panday
Six months of care and protection
Keeping children safe and healthy has been UNICEF's top priority in the aftermath of the earthquake. Over the last six months, UNICEF has:
- Reached 46,522 mothers and newborns with emergency care.
- Vaccinated 537,081 children for measles, rubella and polio.
- Given 326,091 children micronutrient powders to improve their diets and prevent malnutrition.
- Delivered emergency water supply to 655,910 people.
- Established 226 Child Friendly Spaces where 16,094 children could stay safe from the many hazards in a disaster zone.
Standing by children
While the humanitarian response has had a profound impact for children like Himal, the road to recovery has far to go. Thousands of families are still living out in the open and there is an urgent need for durable shelters, warm clothes, blankets as well as cooking and heating sources.
And so the work continues. UNICEF has been in Nepal for over 40 years and will stand by families as they continue to rebuild their lives.
Rojina, for one, is determined to see her new family through the challenges. "I worry a lot about my son's well-being as we have a very difficult life," she says, "but it gives me a lot of relief to see him safe."
"He's my only purpose in life now."
With thanks to Naresh Newar for first sharing Rojina's story.