Nepal’s earthquake of April of 2015, was the worst in the last 80 years, killing nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000.
The Tamang, indigenous people of the Himalayan region of Nepal, were disproportionately hit. 600,000 Tamang houses were completely destroyed and 1,385 Tamang where killed; more than half of the ‘people’.
Two years after the earthquake I visited the Tamang village of Ichok, located in Sindhupalchok district, northeast of Kathmandu. The Ichok village is located 6 hours from the busy city os Kathmandu and basic needs such as water and sanitary facilities are not attended by the government. Like many indigenous communities around the globe, Tamang people suffered discrimination from their own nation.
The Nepali government helped very little or nothing at all, families to rebuild their houses, and many families were still constructing new houses through assuming a debt with the government. The help of international organizations and volunteers was essencial as without them, materials for construction of their houses and their water supply, wouldn’t have been available.
The Tamang have their own mother tongue (called Tamang) still largely spoken today. It belongs to the Tibeto-Burman language group. Farmers spend their days working the soil or taking care of grazing livestock. The men also work with carpentry, masonry and handcrafts. Thought I was looking for signs to portray a community affected by a huge catastrophy, what I found was a clear example of a community full of resilience.
Values which humankind admire – courage, integrity, generosity – are instinctive principles of Tamang.
Being together with them for a week taught me what these values really mean as well as giving clear basis for living them: gratefulness for being alive.