Death, despair, hope and promises: Stunning photo project tells Nepal's story

Death, despair, hope and promises: Stunning photo project tells Nepal's story
Death, despair, hope and promises: Stunning photo project tells Nepal's story
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At a temporary shelter for the people of Langtang village which was almost completely wiped out by the April earthquake reside 38-year-old Lakpa Tamang and her eight year-old daughter Lachhi, who studied in Kathmandu. 

For Lakpa, her husband who worked in a cheese factory in the village died before her very eyes, while her son Dukkey Tamang, the “apple of her eye”, was carried away by the wind of an avalanche that killed him as he hit a stone. One of the most beautiful trekking destinations near Kathmandu, a massive glacier cracked following the earthquake creating an avalanche that buried Langtang village killing over 200 people, with hundreds more unaccounted for. 

While little Lachhi nurses a cornea infection back in the camp, what she keeps asking her heart-wrung mother is if her dad and brother are coming back soon. 

This is the story of one family facing the brutal repercussions of an earth quake that hit not once but twice, along with innumerable aftershocks. 

Witnessed and recounted by Saagar Chhetri, a professional photographer in Nepal, he is just one among the many contributors to Nepal Photo Project(NPP), a platform that is working towards aggregating critical and accurate information about the earthquake and its aftermath. 


May 15 kathmandu Lakpa's story Photograph 1/2 I was in the temporary shelter camp for the rescued langtang peoples where I met Lakpa Tamang, 38 and daughter lachhi. lachhi, 8, was studying in kathmandu, lakpa's husband used to work in the cheese factory in langtang. Couple lived in the langtang village with their elder son Dukkey Tamang meanwhile, managed to send Lachhi to a proper school in kathmandu. Lakpa brusts into tears, while she shares her story, she saw her husband dead on spot in front of her bare eyes, while the apple of her eye, Dukkey, was carried away by the wind, caused by the avalanche, and thrown on a stone. Dukkey was already dead while Lakpa tried to grab him, mid avalanche, but lakpa's sister Ganga Tamang pulled by her hair and stoped her to risk her life and let bygone be bygone. Now lakpa along with her two younger sister and their single childrens are living in a temp shelter at the Yellow Gumba, kathmandu re-united with her 8 year old daughter, Lachhi. Lachhi has infection in her eyes, It looked like cornea infection, so nobody has shared anything with Lachhi. Lachhi was very happy to see her mom, aunts and cousins and was asking if her dad and brother were also going to come. lakpa fears if Lachhi knows the truth it will hurt her eyes pretty bad. My heart wrenched in pain, I felt it deep. while talking with them inside their congested tent I was constantly sweating. I wonder how will they live in this summer hot kathmandu inside the tents. Photo by @saagarchhetri #nepal #langtang #nepalphotoproject #2015 #nepalearthquake #langtangcrisis #avalanche #victims #survivour

A photo posted by NepalPhotoProject (@nepalphotoproject) on

Initiated by Sumit Dayal, a photojournalist who grew up in Kathmandu, and now resides in India, the project is a spin-off of a feed called the India Photo Project that acts like an informal collective showcasing contemporary photography out of India. The NPP, on the other hand, is more an aggregated stream of images and information coming out of Nepal covering the aftermath of the earthquake which they considered the best way to collectively put out information from people that they could trust on the ground, all under one banner 

According to Tara Bedi, the editor of NPP, the parameter for what they post online is kept simple. “… it should communicate something purposeful or meaningful - be it the damage/devastation, links to reliable fundraising campaigns, photographs of missing people so they can be circulated as widely as possible, coverage of rescue/relief operations, citizen volunteer initiatives, volunteer opportunities, links to resources like that is essentially a crisis response website, other relevant articles/images.

A lot of information has been carried on media about the Nepal earthquake aftermath. According to Bedi, the vibe of NPP is different, as it allows its photographers the freedom to “express in a more 'real' and humane way and I think people connect to that,” she says, in an email interview. 

Though there is a community of photographers who contribute to NPP, what’s most interesting about the project is that its list of contributors is dynamic. “it keeps growing as and when we discover new, relevant posts," she says. 

While pictures of death and destruction found major presence, so did stories of hope. A few days after the first earthquake, even as the country withstood repeated aftershocks, a one photographer shared a picture of his childhood friend getting married. “it brought some much needed mental relief. Though it's a long road to recovery, life is slowly trying to move back to normalcy,” wrote Sachindra Rajbansi, a few days ahead of the second earthquake that hit them again.

“We realised that the big one had come. Life changed over night. Coping with loss became difficult as loss was felt at multiple levels – cities were destroyed, people were dead and many had no homes to get back to. Parks filled up with tents and there were no shops to go and buy foodstuffs.

Everyone says that relief came fast, but every moment on the ground seemed so long,” he says about his experience after the quake.

Photo by Sachindra Rajbansi

From the kind of responses NPP has received by relatives and friends of those living in Nepal, it has served an immense help for those reaching out to their loved ones, or those trying to witness and understand what the nation is hoping to do - rebuild their homes, brick by brick. 

Photo by @jon_rose

Photo by @samreinders


This is Mrs. Shrestha, mom to Manjil and Raj, at a tea house just off Nayabazar. It was taken at about 4.30pm. A little over 45 minutes later another large shock jolted the city. So here's the thing. There was the "Great Earthquake' on 25 April. And the second big one on 12 May. Everyone saw them, heard about them just took turning on the TV or opening the paper. Body counts, reporters atop temples doing stand up's... It was live, it was a disaster, it was, like these things often are on TV, a little addictive. You wanted to see what happened next. But what was next is largely unreported. And difficult to put words or images to. There have been OVER ONE HUNDRED aftershocks registering a magnitude of 4 or more on the Richerscale. Each one sends people running and crying to open space. Terrified. It's not something you simply get used to.Wounds are reopened, fresh scars etched into the psyche. The psychical scarring of the landscape temples homes, shops are slowly by surely being cleared. Plans are being made for rebuilding (or not...). The continuing instability and the powerlessness it brings though especially for a parent such as Mrs. Shrestha is something that is not subsiding. I can only think it is like being attacked, and then seeing your attacker again and again and again. Photo by @samreinders #nepal #nepalearthquake #nepalphotoproject #kathmandu #journal #terrified #beingamother #scars #aftershocks #earthquake

A photo posted by NepalPhotoProject (@nepalphotoproject) on

Photo by @samreinders

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